Friday, January 5, 2018

Politics in Balochistan


The political uncertainty which has been sweeping across the country appears now to have also reached Balochistan. A no-confidence move signed by 14 members of the 65-member Balochistan Assembly has been tabled against Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri of the PML-N. The move comes despite the fact that 53 members of the assembly are part of the Zehri-led government. While allies of the PML-N, comprising the National Party and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party – have stood by Zehri, all other parties have joined in the action to unseat him. Those who have moved the no-confidence motion cite failures to release development funds and manage other key election affairs as the major reasons for their discontent. Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti, long seen as a close ally of Zehri, is among the leaders of the move against the Balochistan government. The PML-N then has a distinct breakaway faction in the province led by Bugti and his men. Several other prominent PML-N members are a part of this group which emerged just days ago.

In a press conference renouncing the goings-on in Balochistan, PkMAP leader and veteran politician Mehmood Khan Achakzai has suggested the developments in Balochistan are part of a wider plot against the PML-N government and its chief Nawaz Sharif. Whether this is true is impossible to say. Politics in Balochistan have traditionally followed patterns of their own with limited links to national events. However, with major leaders such as Maulana Fazalur Rehman also openly supporting the no-confidence move, it is evident that the unfolding scenario will further weaken the already embattled PML-N, adding another front to fight on. There is also conjecture that what is happening in Balochistan could be an effort to prevent the PML-N from gaining control of the Senate, as would certainly happen in March this year. As such the rebellion in Balochistan led by the PML-N’s own members needs to be seen against the backdrop of national developments. The speaker of the Balochistan Assembly has announced that the no-confidence motion will be voted on January 9. How this fits in to the increasingly complicated jigsaw puzzle of national politics will become clearer after that date. Till then the happenings in Balochistan will continue to be closely watched from many quarters over the coming days

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