Shaken and Stirred Balochistan Political Setup –May Still Sail Through

PKONWEB Report– The Balochistan government led by PML-N-led coalition stands shaken and stirred with the resignation of its Chief Minister on Tuesday and reports the opposition along with disgruntled lawmakers were tabling a No Confidence Motion the same day in the provincial assembly. But several political pundits say they think the setup may continue and sail through until next elections in summer.

According to reports, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri resigned as the chief minister after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi remained unable to contain the mushrooming political crisis in the province. His resignation was promptly accepted by Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, DawnNews reported.

Most of the disgruntled lawmakers of the PMLN had refused to meet the prime minister during his visit to Quetta the capital of the province on Monday.

Zehri was reportedly asked to resign ahead of the session to spare his party — the PML-N.

The session had been called after 14 members of the assembly on opposition benches filed a motion of no-confidence against Zehri. The province’s lawmakers had expressed a lack of confidence in Zehri citing “unfulfilled commitments”, and important ministers and advisers on the treasury bench had recently turned dissidents, sparking a series of resignations and sackings.

“Power is a temporary thing… we will go to masses again,” Zehri remarked, adding that being the chief of Jhalanwala tribes was more important to him than the chair of chief minister.

Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, the former home minister for Balochistan, who is spearheading the no-confidence initiative, said it was a victory for democracy. “I am grateful to Sardar Sanaullah Zehri for stepping down with grace. I am also thankful to all fellow lawmakers for making this possible.”

In wake of Zehri’s resignation, chances are that the next chief minister will also be from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The move to oust Zehri is not simple happenstance, but a well-thought-out power maneuver undertaken with one eye on the upcoming Senate elections, reported Dawn citing political observers. Several analysts appearing on TV Talk Shows echoed similar views with a few cautioning that rocking the boat in the province could get out of control and send wrong signals.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s southern gateway for the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor with several countries having shown interest in partnering in the venture including Afghanistan and Iran– both straddle Balochistan on its west.

With 11 senators from Balochistan set to retire in March, there is an opportunity for the ruling PML-N to increase its Senate membership, where it currently only has 21 legislators out of the total 65. A majority in the Senate (Upper House) would lend the ruling party added steam as it already enjoys simple majority in the National Assembly (Lower House). With majority in both houses, the party would then be able to have leverage to enact Amendments and laws comparatively easier, said some observers.

To do so, however, it is imperative that the party retain its strength in the Balochistan Assembly, which will elect senators to the upper house.

This is why recent reports of cracks forming within the party — to which Zehri himself belonged — is a major blow for the PML-N, wrote Dawn.

So far, the turmoil in the Balochistan Assembly has seen former home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, Sardar Sarfaraz Domki and Prince Ahmed Ali tender their resignations, with Bugti claiming on Wednesday that more will follow in days to come.

According to sources 9 or 11 dissident lawmakers of the ruling party have sided with the opposition.

PML-N heads government in the Center, Punjab and in Balochistan while PPP rules in Sindh, and PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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