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PM fails to pacify Baluchistan lawmakers

Baluchistan

News Analysis |

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Quetta on Monday, in an effort to appease the dissident lawmakers of Baluchistan. The visit bore no fruit as the opposing members refused to meet PM Abbasi. It was a desperate and final attempt to gain support for Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri. The proceedings against the no-confidence motion will take place on Tuesday evening.

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 most likely candidate of Chief Ministry is former home minister Sarfraz Bugti. He has been at the forefront of the no-confidence issue and he also assured that his reservations are only with CM Zehri and not with PML-N.

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. CM Zehri also approached the former premier Nawaz Sharif to seek assistance for saving his government. He offered Sharif to visit the province and put his weight behind resolving the issue, but the PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif showed no interest.

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While he gave multiple statements about the attack on his government and plots to soil the senate election, he has not offered any words of consolation or support for the perturbed CM. Sources inside PML-N have indicated that Nawaz is not very happy with Zehri’s style of governance so when the no-confidence motion came forward, he let things play out rather than interfering.

Senior leadership of National Party (NP) and Jamiat-Ulema-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) had already approached Nawaz concerning Zehri’s style of government. It appears that PML-N leadership have no particular interest in salvaging Zehri’s government and are ready to replace him.

The Baluchistan crisis seems to be under the control of PML-N, their apparent solution seems to be to remove CM Zehri and install a new CM in his stead. That would pacify the opposition without creating further issues.

PM Abbasi earlier on Thursday met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlul Rehman but rather than talking about gaining support for CM Zehri, they discussed the succession issue of Baluchistan Chief Ministry in case the no-confidence motion against Zehri passes. Abbasi’s visit to Quetta came too late, the water was already above the head for the CM, and the visit was merely a gesture of support without offering any real assistance.

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PML-N has been claiming that the Baluchistan crisis is an attempt to foil the upcoming Senate elections in March but experts believe otherwise. The dissolution of Baluchistan assembly, let alone the dismissal of CM will have no effect on the senate elections. Other provincial assemblies and the national assembly will still remain intact to elect the remainder of the senators.

The chairman and deputy chairman of senate would also be elected without any hindrance since Baluchistan won’t be completely absent from the polling, half of Baluchistan senators will still remain. The only way that the senate elections will be interrupted is if the PTI and PPP governments in KPK and Sindh respectively decide to resign, and dissolve the assembly.

Abbasi’s visit to Quetta came too late, the water was already above the head for the CM, and the visit was merely a gesture of support without offering any real assistance.

They have demanded early elections in the past so it is a possibility that they’ll sacrifice their remaining tenures and go for an early election. The dismissal of the CM won’t create any big hurdles since the assembly can always elect another CM, complexities will arise if the opposition parties decide to resign. The proportion of senators to MPAs will change from the standard.

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The Baluchistan crisis seems to be under the control of PML-N, their apparent solution seems to be to remove CM Zehri and install a new CM in his stead. That would pacify the opposition without creating further issues.

The most likely candidate of Chief Ministry is former home minister Sarfraz Bugti. He has been at the forefront of the no-confidence issue and he also assured that his reservations are only with CM Zehri and not with PML-N. The fate of Zehri’s government hangs in the balance and will be decided in the next few hours.


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