Wednesday Oct 20 2021

Is Balochistan’s chief minister on his way out?

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan is presiding over a cabinet meeting. Photo: file
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan is presiding over a cabinet meeting. Photo: file

The political crisis in Balochistan is only getting worse each week.

On October 13, Zahoor Buledi was appointed the acting president of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Buledi, who is already the vice-president of BAP, replaced the former president Jam Kamal Khan, who is also the chief minister of the province.

Now, the move cannot be seen in isolation.

Khan was removed from his position as president, in the midst of another ongoing crisis – a non-confidence motion pending against him in the Balochistan Assembly.

It is also pertinent to note that Buledi’s appointment was made by the secretary general of the political party, Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar, who sent a communique to the Election Commission of Pakistan. Soon after, Chief Minister Khan held an angry news conference informing the media that he will not be stepping down from his position as president.

“How can a single person [Kakar] nominate the president of the party?” he thundered.

On Thursday, Jam Kamal Khan left for Islamabad to save his presidency. But at the time, his rivals had also arrived in the city to save their own man.

The question to ask here is will Khan succeed in holding on to power or will he be sent packing?

Let’s do some math first.

The incumbent chief minister enjoys the support of 12 out of 24 members of the provincial assembly (MPA) belonging to BAP. In addition, he has the backing of 14 MPAs from parties that are allies of BAP in the province, which includes the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami National Party and Hazara Democratic Party.

On the other hand, the dissident MPAs in BAP claim to be 12 in total. They also say they have the support of 24 MPAs belonging to the Opposition benches. That brings their total to 36 MPAs.

Since the Balochistan Assembly is 65-members strong, anyone who wants to push through a no-confidence motion will need at least 33 members to vote in favour. If the dissidents are to be believed then they have the numbers to remove Khan.

Interestingly, when the motion was moved, the founder of BAP, Saeed Ahmed Hashmi, was also present to lend his support to it.

Meanwhile, Jam Kamal Khan also seems confident of the move failing. For this, he has not only contacted some rebels but also the leadership of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam-F. However, the Jamiat’s leadership has shown little interest in supporting the incumbent chief minister till now.

We might just have to wait till the voting day to determine whose friends proved loyal in the end and whose did not.