Political turmoil hits Balochistan

ANI | Updated: Jan 06, 2018 14:17 IST

Balochistan [Pakistan], Jan 06 (ANI): Fourteen opposition members of the Balochistan provincial assembly have moved a no-confidence motion against Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri.

Thirty-three members out of 65 are required for a successful push against the incumbent chief minister, the Dawn reports.

Analysts have cited the upcoming Senate elections, Zehri's alleged loyalty to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and federal interference in provincial affairs as three possible reasons for the no-confidence move.

In 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won a majority of the seats in the province and formed a coalition government. They appointed Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, a middle-class Baloch nationalist as chief minister of the province, even though his party was in the minority.

However, in 2015, Sanaullah Zehri was made the chief minister as part of the famous "Marri Deal" after Abdul Malik vacated the post.

"According to a Quetta-based analyst, the then chief of the southern command Lt Gen Mohammad Nasser Khan Janjua, who is currently the country's National Security Adviser (NSA), had wanted Dr Baloch to stay on, but Mr Zehri had opposed it because his party had obtained a majority of seats in the Balochistan Assembly" the report said.

Sources close to the PML-N said Zehri's attitude towards ministers of his own party has not been going on well.

A senior minister of the Balochistan Assembly said, "Sanaullah Zehri was tough on his ministers; he would interfere in their affairs, including [the affairs of] ministers from his own party."

Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal and his party's Minister Mir Hammal Kalmati were also signatories to the motion.

However, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai said: "Sanaullah Zehri is being punished for being loyal to Nawaz Sharif."

Senior Pakistan journalist Siddiq Baloch warned that newly joined ministers are deserting Zehri.

"If the assembly is gone, there won't be Senate elections," warned Siddiq, "The ministers, who recently received portfolios from Sanaullah Zehri, are resigning and deserting him," he added.

Responding to the view of Zehri going or not, Siddiq said, "He does not have a team that can negotiate with the establishment."

"He is left alone along with a team of bureaucrats who cannot be of help," he added.

Governments of Balochistan province have been sacked several times in the past.

Rights groups and activists have, time and again, raised their voices against Pakistan for carrying out an alleged genocide in the region.

For decades in Balochistan, economic exploitation through the plundering of natural resources and the systematic economic, social and political exclusion of indigenous Baloch people has become a norm.

In addition to this, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression are used as covert tools to brutally repress the peaceful struggle for justice, rights and equality of the Baloch.

Reports say at least 8,000 Baloch citizens are still victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, while 1,500 such victims were killed and dumped, according to human rights organisations. (ANI)