Monday Feb 03 2020

How Balochistan CM Jam Kamal Khan survived an in-house change

Balochistan CM Jam Kamal. Photo: File

You might not hear about him as much as the other chief ministers - of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - but Jam Kamal Khan, the chief minister of Balochistan, has proved himself to be a sagacious politician.

Since the year 2020 began, the governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been rocked by internal dissent. Jam Kamal Khan faced a similar threat. His challenger was the speaker of the Balochistan assembly, Abdul Quddus Bizenjo.

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Last month, the speaker threw down the gauntlet. Bizenjo called the chief minister “incompetent” and “weak”. He further threatened to bring an in-house change against Khan, with the help of disgruntled members of the provincial assembly. 

“If the change does not take place within the party then we will seek support in the opposition benches and we would be able to bring change with their support,” he told the media.

Panic ensued around the chief minister’s office. But he, surprisingly, remained calm. Khan chose mediation over confrontation, with the help of Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, the chairman of the Senate, who enjoys a cordial relationship with both men.

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Now, both the speaker and the chief minister belong to the same political party – the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Formed a few months before the general election of 2018, BAP emerged as the single largest party in the province. 

It further cemented its role in forming government through a coalition with politico-national groups. The ruling party at the centre, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), also gave BAP a nod of approval.

Soon after assuming office in Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan faced a plethora of problems from inside and outside his political party. There had been several attempts in the past one year to dislodge Khan from power, but none proved successful.

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For now, the disgruntled men and women, will have to put on hold their desire to see Khan exit, as the PTI has once again put its weight behind the chief minister.

A three-member committee, formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently, announced that the chief minister was making all possible efforts to ensure good governance in the province, therefore, he would continue to serve. It further added that all outstanding issues between Bizenjo and Jam Kamal Khan will be resolved.

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In the past few days, the senate chairman, sources say, has also worked behind the scenes to hold one-on-one meetings with the two men.

Balochistan’s political dynamics involve hectic lobbying and tough bargaining to rope in multiple parties, from opposite ideologies, into a collation. 

A single-party government is unheard of in the province. Similarly, this coalition, like the ones before it, has been made up of four political parties, and then there are the independent lawmakers.

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Political observers, nevertheless, believe that a majority of the elected members of BAP or other coalition partners in Balochistan will not be too keen to endorse any move against the chief minister.

But then there are no permanent friends and foes in politics.