Balochistan: New Government Within Days

A new coalition of various political parties, including the Balochistan National Party, is said to be on the edge to form a new government.

Below is an article published by The Express Tribune:

The new set-up will be cobbled together by all coalition partners in the erstwhile Nawab Aslam Raisani administration. Politicians and senior government officials told The Express Tribune that four political parties – Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid – and Balochistan National Party-Awami will form the new government with the help of independent lawmakers.

“A new government will be put in place a few days before the dissolution of the assembles,” a senior government official said, requesting anonymity. “Under the Constitution, restoration of the provincial government is essential for the formation of an interim set-up in the province,” the official added.

President Asif Zardari had deposed the Raisani administration on the advice of Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and imposed governor’s rule in the province on January 13 following a four-day-long protest sit-in by the Hazara Shia community in Quetta.

Key coalition partners – JUI-F and BNP-A – and some legislators from the PPP had opposed the move and instead called for an “in-house change”. Last month, they threatened a province-wide campaign against the “unconstitutional step” of the president.

The government did not budge. Instead, a joint sitting of parliament was convened to validate the governor’s rule. Under the Constitution, the president is bound to get a parliamentary nod for his proclamation within 60 days failing which would result in the restoration of the Raisani government.

The joint session was, however, postponed after a key government ally – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – refused to validate governor’s rule.

Aurangzeb Khan Kasi, president of ANP’s Balochistan chapter, claimed that the new government will be installed “within a few days”. “The PPP leadership has taken other parties into confidence on the matter,” Kasi told The Express Tribune.

The PML-Q, which is also privy to the plan, opposes the possible move. “It will have a strong reaction from the people,” Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed told The Express Tribune. He was referring to the Hazara Shia community that had called for the dismissal of the “incompetent” Raisani administration.

Senior JUI-F leader Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani has been meeting leaders of different political parties to sell his formula for the restoration of government in Balochistan. Senator Mushahid said the PML-Q leadership refused to buy the Sheerani formula in Monday’s meeting.

On a side note, Senator Mushahid agreed, however, that the restoration of the provincial government was essential for the formation of a caretaker government.

“An interim set-up in the province cannot be formed without consensus between the chief minister and the opposition leader in the provincial assembly,” Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani told The Express Tribune.

But Jam Muhammad Jamali, the former deputy chairman of Senate, does not agree.

“The federal government can file a reference in the Supreme Court seeking its opinion on the formation of a caretaker government without restoring the most corrupt and incompetent government in Balochistan,” Jamali told The Express Tribune.

A constitutional expert said the Raisani administration could be “technically” reinstated the moment governor’s rule was lifted. “Raisani will have to resign to make way for a new chief minister,” he added.

ANP’s Kasi said such a mechanism is under consideration. All coalition partners in the Raisani government have consensus on such “in-house change”. They had offered this option to Premier Ashraf in their Jan 13 meeting before the imposition of governor’s rule.

Governor Nawab Zulfikar Magsi’s brother Tariq Magsi – who was a minister in Raisani’s cabinet until December 18, 2012 when he resigned to sit on opposition benches – is aspiring for the office of leader of the opposition after the restoration of the provincial government.

Constitutionally, an interim chief minister has to be picked by the chief minister in consultation with the opposition leader.

Under CM Raisani, the provincil government had been a unique parliamentary experience till its suspension, where 64 out of its total 65 MPAs were holding cabinet portfolios or other government positions. Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, the PML-Q lawmaker, was deprived of a public office by Raisani due to their family feud.

Rind pretended himself to be a one-man opposition in the provincial legislature. However, he could not sit on the opposition benches till the suspension of the government due to floor-crossing laws.

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