January 15, 2018
Balochistan just saw its 16th Chief Minister, with PML-Q’s Abdul Quddus Bizenjo taking his oath on Saturday. Bizenjo is the third chief minister in the four-and-a-half years, after the ouster of the former Chief Minister, PML-N’s Nawab Sanaullah Zehri.
While, in Pakistan, disqualifications and resignations come and go, this instance is especially more unusual and murky. Bizenjo has the honour of having the lowest votes ever received by a provincial assembly candidate-having won his provincial assembly seat with a mere 544 votes, or 1.18% of eligible voters, in the 2013 general elections. Moreover, the circumstances surrounding his ascent to Chief Minister are also unusual- he is said to have been voted by dissident PML-N voters. This has raised rumours that this ouster was meant as a backlash against PML-N; however, the PML-N dissidents show that there is little party unity in Balochistan- people vote not for parties, but for individuals who shift hands when it is convenient.
The mystery and difficulty of getting information around the politics of Balochistan is a worrying aspect of the nature of democracy in the province. Bizenjo has run on a PML-Q ticket; however, his political affiliation remains unclear, with him being voted in PML-N dissidents, and reports of him allying with PPP. His cabinet suffers from the same problems.
Moreover, by past record, he seems to have shown no outright political stance or cause, making it difficult to predict what he stands for, and how efficient a Chief Minister he will be. Normally, an ouster of a Chief Minister would attract all kinds of politicking, sensationalism and media attention; however the quiet and private nature of the ouster and re-voting in of the new makes it a hurdle for any political analyst to determine how the new cabinet will differ from the previous.
Perhaps this is a reflection of the weak and isolate state of politics in Balochistan today. The nature of democracy is that it is the rule of the people- making transparency and predictability easier, since one gets elected based on his causes. Here, a Chief Minister, with politics and affiliations unknown, being elected with only 544 votes, shows that the political assembly of Balochistan is in a bubble, with not much input from Baloch people. It shows the undemocratic nature of leadership in Balochistan; where politicians are largely removed from the general public and media. The important question, who actually calls the shots in Balochistan, remains unknown. However we can be certain it is not PML-N anymore