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Chief Minister Baluchistan resigns

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News Analysis |

Sanaullah Zehri finally succumbed to opposition pressure today and resigned from his position as the Chief Minister of Baluchistan. He presented his resignation, under Article 130 (8) of the Constitution, to the governor of Baluchistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai in a meeting regarding the no-confidence motion submitted against him in the provincial assembly.      

In a statement after his resignation, he explained that he gave his resignation in favor of his party PML-N and that he is not power hungry. ‘I will continue to serve the people of our country if they deem me worthy’, he vowed. According to reports, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi telephoned Zehri today and offered him to resign for the greater good. Until Zehri’s resignation, his spokesperson Jan Achakzai had rejected all speculations regarding his step down.

It appears that PML-N sacrificed its Chief Minister to save the party from further trouble. The party’s focus is on the upcoming senate elections and if the assembly survives till March then the senate elections will go smoothly.

Sarfraz Bugti and other opposition leaders have celebrated this move. Bugti expressed his delight in a tweet while Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of the PML-Q withdrew his motion of no-confidence against the CM. The speaker of Baluchistan assembly dismissed today’s session for an indefinite amount of time. Bugti also hinted that the next Chief Minister will not necessarily be from PML-N. Many names are being considered for the next CM and Sarfraz Bugti’s name is among them, but he expressed his desire to quit the party in a tweet so PML-N might not consider his name.

It all started when last week, 14 MPAs filed a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri. This move was followed by the resignation of ministers Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, Sardar Sarfaraz Domki and Prince Ahmed Ali. They accused Zehri of bad governance and mistreatment of opposition and allies alike. Lack of development funds for their constituencies was also stated as the reason. The motion was submitted by former speaker Baluchistan Assembly Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of PML-Q and Agha Raza of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen under Article 136 of the Constituent Assembly.

This strategy seems to have worked since CM Zehri has resigned and the aggrieved MPAs have abandoned their grudges. It might be a bad day for Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri

PM Abbasi flew to Quetta on Monday to appease the disgruntled legislators but they refused to meet him. A major blowback was when the agitated lawmakers of his own party also refused to give him an audience. He also met the JUI-F’s Fazul Rehman last week on Thursday, discussing the issue of succession in case Zehri was disqualified.

Read more: Pakistani politics risks heightening regional tensions?

CM Zehri also approached the former premier Nawaz Sharif to seek assistance for saving his government. He asked Sharif to visit the province and put his weight behind resolving the issue, but the PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif did not seem to show any interest. While he gave multiple statements about the attack on his government and plots to soil the senate election, he failed to offer any words of consolation or support to the perturbed CM.

It appears that PML-N sacrificed its Chief Minister to save the party from further trouble. The party’s focus is on the upcoming senate elections and if the assembly survives till March then the senate elections will go smoothly. This strategy seems to have worked since CM Zehri has resigned and the aggrieved MPAs have abandoned their grudges. It might be a bad day for Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri and his government but it proved to be a good day for PML-N which avoided any major long term damage to its future.

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