Three chief ministers in a single tenure

Published on – January 15, 2018 – 7:15 am

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly elected Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo as the new Chief Minister of Balochistan as the erstwhile Chief Minister, Nawab Sanaullah, had stepped down following a revolt from his own Muslim League last week.

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly elected Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo as the new Chief Minister of Balochistan as the erstwhile Chief Minister, Nawab Sanaullah, had stepped down following a revolt from his own Muslim League last week.

There was a straight fight on the floor of the Assembly between Quddus Bizenjo and the nominee of PMAP, Mr. Liaquat Agha. Mr. Bizenjo got 41 votes while Liaquat Agha polled merely 13 votes, all belonging to his own PMAP. Since there was no alliance between PMAP and other parties, thus no other or non PAMP member of the Assembly was voting for Liaquat Agha.

The dissidents filed a No Confidence Motion amid allegations against Nawab Zehri as a pretext to seek his unceremonious ouster from power.

Initially, 14 Members of the Assembly, including one from the National Party, signed the no confidence motion which was submitted at the Assembly Secretariat. The prime movers were Mir Quddus Bizenjo and Mr. Sarfraz Bugti, the sitting Home Minister. With filing the no confidence motion, Sarfraz Bugti resigned from his Cabinet and joined the dissident groups openly to dislodge the sitting Chief Minister after alleging serious charges.

The undivided Opposition in the Balochistan Assembly had extended its support to the no confidence motion while two powerful allies of the PML-N—National Party and the PMAP—refused to support the motion. They opposed the move to this day refusing to accept political dictates from the dissidents. They adopted a tough stand on the issue and kept the alliance with PML-N intact.

Seasoned political observers were of the view that three elements—PML-N and its two powerful and trusted allies the National Party and the PMAP—were dislodged from corridor of power in Balochistan. It was the net result of the revolt.

There was a similar revolt against Sardar Akhtar Mengal in 1998 which was engineered by Mian Nawaz Sharif as 12 Cabinet Ministers with flag cars changed the side leaving the BNP and joined the PML-N Camp. Two former Federal Ministers—Mr. Mushahid Hussain Syed and Lt-Gen ® Majeed Malik –were given the task to overthrow the Mengal Government. This time the revolt was against the PML-N, its allies and its Chief Minister forcing Nawab Zehri to resign. The revolt made Mian Nawaz Sharif powerless in Balochistan, to say the least. Or PML-N was pushed to become a regional party confined to the Punjab only.

The National Party had opted for the independent benches and refused to join hands with the Opposition while the PMAP is yet to announce its strategy for future course of political action.

It is interesting that Mr. Bizenjo is the third Chief Minister in a single constitutional tenure in Balochistan. Earlier two Chief Ministers were Mr. Abdul Malik of the National Party and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, the PML-N who was also provincial party chief.

Dr Malik became the first Chief Minister following the Murree Accord between National Party and Mian Nawaz Sharif sharing the constitutional tenure between the two allies. The first part of the tenure was handed over to National Party at the behest of the Establishment and he was made the Chief Minister with mere 11 votes in the Assembly. Both the allies Pakistan Muslim League-N and PMAP extended their support to Dr Malik to complete the agreed period of the tenure.

Some two years back, Nawab Zehri was inducted as the Chief Minister till Members of the House formed a group of dissidents and filed a no confidence motion to dislodge Nawab Zehri from power. He was a strong man and being a powerful Sardar he implemented his views and order with complete authority and boldness.

However, he preferred to step down instead of putting a fight on the floor of the Assembly. Being a shrewd man, he assessed that there was a revolt against him and thus he preferred to step down with grace and honour to avoid mudslinging.

As expected, there was defection from the National Party as three of its important members voted for Bizenjo defying the dictates of the party to abstain from voting. Those defected were Sardar Mujeebur Rehman Mohammad Hasani, Mir Khalid Langov and Mr. Fateh Buleidai.

At the same time, there was one defection from the PMAP as Mr. Manzoor Kakar, a businessman and MPA, defected and voted for Quddus Bizenjo. Presumably, it was the first ever defection in the Parliamentary history of PMAP. It remained a small party but with strong discipline within the party.

The Parliamentary party leader Rahim Ziaratwal reacted strongly and served a notice with a possible action under the laws of the land to file a reference to unseat him on the charges of defection. Manzoor was rewarded with a Ministry in the Provincial Cabinet which he never thought of being a member of the PMAP Parliamentary party. He was a backbencher and seldom participated in parliamentary debate. The reaction from the party leadership was harsh and uncompromising while dealing with Manzoor Kakar. It was the first serious shock to the party leadership as the PMAP never faced such a situation.

In the Ministry making one of the outsiders (Non MPA) was made an Adviser to the Chief Minister on Information. He is Mr. Anwar Kakar, the erstwhile Spokesman of the Government in the Zehri Government. It was a promotion to the man to deal with media, presumably with more powers and authority than any Minister wielded in the past.

There was a strong tradition in the past that the Chief Ministers used to retain two important portfolios of Home Affairs and Information because of its mega sensitivity. The tradition was discarded since 1990s as Allies or party Ministers were given both the portfolios minimizing the importance of good governance and awareness of the masses about the Government activities in various fields.