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First Senate Chairman from Balochistan: Its Significance

Balochistan
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The Senate of Pakistan has elected its first ever Chairman from Balochistan yesterday. Mir Sadiq Sanjrani became the 8th chairman of Senate with the support of two of the biggest parties of Pakistan: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Pakistan’s legislature is bicameral, meaning that it is divided into two houses: The upper house; Senate and the lower house; National Assembly (NA).

The National Assembly is a democratically elected body, based on the population of each district. Punjab being the most populous province has the highest representation in the NA and Balochistan being the least populous has the lowest representation in the NA. The purpose of creating a bicameral system is to grant equal representation to all federating units in the center and balance the provincial inequality in the National Assembly.

A number of other Baloch leaders like Sarfraz Bugti also went through the same troubles for the survival of democracy in the country, troubles which leaders from other provinces do not have to go through.

The significance of a Baloch Senate chairman lies at the heart of the intent of creating the Senate at the first place. Since the enactment of the 1973 Constitution, Pakistan has not had a single Senate chairman from Balochistan which was a major setback for the objective of creating the Senate at the first place. The victory of Mir Sadiq Sanjrani as the Senate chairman has achieved the very purpose for which the Senate was completed.

Read more: Senate defeat a prelude to approaching doomsday for Nawaz?

Why Balochistan and not any other Province?

The question arises that why the victory of Sadiq Sanjrani is being celebrated as a landmark move as similar celebrations didn’t take place at the election of Senate chairmen from other provinces. The seat has always been celebrated as a victory for the party and not as a victory of the province so what is so special about Balochistan?

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of land area but smallest in population. It is a rich land full of many valuable natural resources like gold, copper and gas, and also has one of the most sought after deep seaport (Gwadar) in the world. Despite all this, Balochistan is the poorest and most deprived province of Pakistan with poor infrastructure, lack of schools and basic health facilities.

What Maryam Nawaz and many other critics of Baloch leaders are not aware of are the struggles that they went through to get to this position. Bizenjo contested in the elections despite having threats to his life, in a district dominated by separatists.

Poverty, illiteracy, terrorism and lack of development are some of the problems which Balochistan is mired with. It also has one of the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) in Pakistan. Baloch leaders have long accused the center of ignoring its problems and isolating it. The resentment also exists in the Baloch people, some of whom have joined insurgency. Some of these issues are expected to be resolved with the initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which has provided a golden opportunity to Pakistan to resolve these issues.

Read more: Sadiq Sanjrani elected as Chairman Senate

Insurgency in Balochistan

A new wave of insurgency started in Balochistan after the alleged murder of Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti by the Pakistan Army on 26th August 2006. The murder of Bugti triggered anti-state sentiments with the rise of a number of insurgent groups demanding separation.  These groups were supported and funded by many countries and international organizations to create instability in Pakistan. The most prominent of these involvements were by India, Pakistan’s longstanding neighbor and enemy.

The proof of India’s involvement in became evident when the Pakistani government caught Jadhav inside Balochistan in Mashkel near the border region of Chaman during a counter-intelligence operation. Jadhav has since admitted to supporting insurgents inside Balochistan and helping them to execute terrorist operations. One of the objectives that he has since admitted to have failed were to provide a route to the landlocked insurgents in Balochistan through Iran.

Read more: Significance of a Baloch Senate chairman

Significance of a Baloch Senate Chairman

It all boils down to the significance of a Baloch Senate Chairman. Mir Sadiq Sanjrani contested as an independent candidate for the Senate elections from Balochistan. He was elected by the disgruntled group of PML-N MPAs who toppled the government of Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri and made Abdul Quddus Bizenjo the new Chief Minister of Balochistan. Bizenjo was the leader of the seven independent senators who won from Balochistan and later helped Sanjrani to become the chairman of Senate.

The question arises that why the victory of Sadiq Sanjrani is being celebrated as a landmark move as similar celebrations didn’t take place at the election of Senate chairmen from other provinces.

Bizenjo belongs to the troubled Awaran district of Balochistan and won the 2013 general elections from PB-41 with only 544 seats. He was the one who approached PTI and PPP for their support in the Senate elections and was mocked for it by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz as the chief minister who only won 500 votes.

What Maryam Nawaz and many other critics of Baloch leaders are not aware of are the struggles that they went through to get to this position. Bizenjo contested in the elections despite having threats to his life, in a district dominated by separatists. A number of other Baloch leaders like Sarfraz Bugti also went through the same troubles for the survival of democracy in the country, troubles which leaders from other provinces do not have to go through.

Read more: PML-N looks favorite to win Senate Chairmanship after PPP snubbed Rabbani

It shows the struggles faced by every Baloch leader to become a voice for his province. A Baloch Senate chairman will become the voice of the numerous plights of Baloch people. He would be able to raise their issues from one of the biggest forums in the country, and not only raise his voice but he would also be able to act in their favor. This is the first time that Baloch leadership has been given a center place in the national politics.


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