Wednesday Jan 10 2018

Balochistan political crisis: Search begins for new chief minister

Balochistan Assembly Opposition Leader Maulana Abdul Wasey along with BNP chief Akhter Mengal addressing a press conference - INP

QUETTA: Following Sanaullah Zehri’s resignation as the chief minister of Balochistan on Tuesday, the search has begun for his replacement as the political void intensifies in the province.

Chances are that the next chief minister will also be from the ruling PML-N, with most likely candidates being Saleh Bhutani or Jan Muhammad Jamali.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former premier Nawaz Sharif held a meeting in the wake of Zehri’s resignation, where it was decided that the opposition would be offered to bring forward their candidate for the position of the next chief minister if they express a majority.

However, the two dignitaries also shared concerns of a dissolved assembly if the political crisis worsened.

PML-N leader and a strong contender for the chief minister slot, Jan Muhammad Jamali said “we will take the decision ourselves” while speaking to Hamid Mir in Geo News programme Capital Talk.

“My ancestors were in the Muslim League, way before Nawaz Sharif was,” he said when asked about the role of Nawaz Sharif in the decision.

Jamali added that the dynamics of the PML-N in Balochistan is different from other parts of Pakistan.

Balochistan opposition leaders, addressing a press conference earlier today, informed that they would remain part of the opposition and not join the government.

"We will cooperate with the government on positive decisions, and we won't support any undemocratic move," said opposition leader in Balochistan Assembly, Moulana Abdul Wasay.

He said that the government should field a candidate with unanimous support. 

"Opposition won’t let government dissolve. No constitutional crisis will start in Balochistan," he assured. 

Zehri’s decision came after he was reportedly advised by Prime Minister Abbasi to resign ahead of a no-confidence motion which was to be taken up against him in the provincial assembly.

According to sources, PM Abbasi advised the chief minister to resign to control the political situation in the province following his visit to Quetta.

The prime minister also took notice of the role of provincial lawmakers for letting the situation worsen.

In a statement following his resignation, Zehri said that he did not wish to cause problems in the political setup of the province. He added that he was not in the habit of hanging onto power at any cost.

No-confidence motion

A no-confidence motion was submitted against Zehri on January 2 by MPAs Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Syed Agha Raza and had the signatures of 14 lawmakers.

In order to retain his position as chief minister, Zehri required the support of 33 members from a house of 65.

A political crisis developed in Balochistan following the no-confidence motion, with efforts stepped up by the PML-N, which has a government both in the centre and province, to defuse the situation.

According to reports, ten disgruntled MPAs from the PML-N were also supposed to vote for the no-confidence motion.