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Balochistan - Governance

Balochistan became a part of Pakistan after the withdrawal of the British on 14 August 1947. Balochistan was different from other parts of Pakistan in certain respects, since it had not long been given the status of a province with a government responsible to an elected legislature. The Quaid had wanted to see Balochistan as a full-fledged province with all the democratic institutions that must of need go with it in a larger scheme of Pakistan. Balochistan could not be raised to the status of a fullfledged province without merging the adjoining tribal areas with what was called "British Balochistan". Nor could the realities of the prevailing Tribal Responsibility System and Treaty Obligations with neighbouring principalities be ignored.

The Khan was hobnobbing with Foreign Governments, especially Britain, India and Afghanistan over and above the Pakistan Foreign office. Balochistan's long common borders' with Afghanistan, Iran and two of Kalat's feudatories exposure to the sea along the Makran coastline made Kalat's accession to Pakistan imperative in the interests of Pakistan's security. Indeed, the accession of Kalat and defence of Pakistan was closely linked, and on no terms could Pakistan's security interests be compromised.

By the fall of 1950, Liaquat Ali Khan had appointed a "Reform Committee on Balochistan" with the mandate to recommend constitutional and administrative changes in the existing set-up of the province with due regard to political, social and economic conditions prevailing therein. About a month after the death of Mr Liaquat All Khan on November 17, 1951, the Committee presented its report to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. It recommended the formation of a Governor's province in Balochistan without disturbing the existing institution of the Sardari System. The princely states of Balochistan were also to be given due protection.

About five months after the submission of the report, on April 12, 1951, the Central Government through an administrative measure, and contrary to the recommendations of the report, decided on fusion of Balochistan's four states, Kalat, Kharan, Makran and Las Bela. Subsequently the states signed a suplementary instrument of accession integrating their territories into a single Balochistan States Union. On June 16, 1954, it was finally decided through the Council of Rulers of the Balochistan States Union to merge the four stales with the centrally administered Balochistan. It is said that initially the Khan of Kalat was opposed to the merger and his cooperation wis secured under duress.

Like other provinces, Balochistan has a Provincial Assembly and Chief Minister, with a Governor appointed by the federal President. Federal level representation consists of 17 Members of the National Assembly (out of 342 seats) and 22 members of the federal Senate (out of 100 seats). The province is divided into 26 administrative districts. Major cities and towns include the provincial capital Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar, Kohlu, Loralai, and Zhob.

Political parties include the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The MMA contingent is composed almost exclusively of Pashtun members of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam / Fazlur Rehman Faction (JUI/F). The Baloch are divided between the nationalist parties and the PML. The nationalists held just under a quarter of the seats in the assembly.

Balochistan's Pashtuns are politically divided among three different parties. The secular Awami National Party (ANP), whose home base is the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), where it held ten seats in the provincial assembly in 2006; the party had no seats in the Balochistan assembly and had only one seat in the federal Senate. The Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), had five seats in the provincial assembly, one seat in the National Assembly, and two in the federal Senate.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Fazlur Rehman Faction (JUI-F), was a key member of the national coalition of Islamic political parties -- the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The JUI-F held 17 seats in the 65-member provincial assembly in 2006, where it was part of the governing coalition, and held roughly half of the MMA's seats in the National Assembly, where Maulana Fazlur Rehman led the opposition.

Pashtuns are deeply skeptical about the motives of the Baloch tribal leaders, pointing out that two of the Baloch sardars at odds with the government -- Nawab Bugti and Sardar Mengal -- had formerly served as chief ministers or provincial governors. Many Pashtun recall that Nawab Bugti was allied with the government more often than against it. Pashtun leaders view the Baloch tribal sardars as placing more importance on sustaining tribal law -- and their unassailable positions as the heads of their tribes -- than fighting for the general welfare of the province.

On 21 September 2006, the Khan of Kalat, the traditional hereditary leader of most Baloch tribes, presided over a grand jirga (conclave) of 85 tribal chiefs and several hundred elders - Balochistan's first grand jirga in over one hundred years. The grand jirga was in response to a government-managed Bugti tribal jirga held two days before the 26 August 2006 death of Nawab Bugti, in which pro-goverment Bugti tribesmen declared the demise of the sardari (tribal lord) system in the Bugti tribal area. It declared Nawab Bugti's heirs the legitimate owners of his property, a direct challenge to the Army, which, according to contacts in Quetta, continues to distribute parcels of the Nawab's lands to his tribal opponents. The jirga called upon the International Human Rights Commission to investigate Bugti's death.

Almost two months after the 18 February 2008 general elections, the Balochistan Assembly met for the first time on April 7. Endless shifting party allegiances resulted in a People's Party of Pakistan (PPP)-dominated Assembly with the virtual unanimous election of PPP member Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani as Chief Minister and another Baloch Nawab, Zulfiqar Magsi, as Governor. The PML, which won 20 seats in the 62 seat Assembly, versus the PPP's four, gradually dissolved to favor a coalition mirroring the one in the center.

The most powerful sardars - each with a substanital militia - are those of the Bugti, Marri, and Mengal tribes, all of whom have been at odds with Islamabad in recent years. Each of these tribes is based in the eastern third of the province. The Sui gas fields are ound in the tribal territory of the Bugtis. Each of the three tribes is associated with a different political party: Bugti founded the Jamhoori Watan Party; Mengal founded the Balochistan National Party; and Marri is tied to the Baloch Haq Tawar Party as well as the Baluchistan Liberation Army.

The Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), as it is known today, has its roots in the Pakhtun nationalism of Khan Shaheed Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai. It emerged from the now defunct National Awami party (NAP), following differences with the NAP leadership over the rights of Pakthuns in Balochistan and over the NWFP (now Khyber Pakthunkhwa) leaderships appeasing attitude towards the centre. The aim of PkMAP is to unite the Pashtuns of Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged 17 seats, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) 14 and National Party 10 seats in the 65-member Balochistan Assembly in the 2013 general elections. Under the Murree Accord, the coalition arrangement between the PML-N, NP, and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) after the May 2013 polls, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch was elected as the chief minister for a period of two-and-a-half years. The smallest party of the group was awarded the exalted office for the first half of the five-year tenure in the light of the formula decided by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who said he wished to accommodate the nationalists in the larger interest of the country. Mohammad Khan Achakzai, an economist and elder brother of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, was appointed Governor Balochistan on 11 June 2013.

President of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Balochistan, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, was elected unopposed as the chief Minister of Balochistan on 24 December 2015, replacing National Party (NP) leader Dr Abdul Malik Baloch at the helm of the provincial government after two and a half years. No other candidate submitted nomination papers for the election of the Leader of the House.

Nawaz Sharif received a serious political blow in January 2018 when an apparent internal revolt brought down his partys government in the troubled western province of Balochistan. Balochistans former chief minister Sanaullah Zehri handed in a resignation prior to a no-confidence vote supported by many disgruntled members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). On 02 January 2018, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and 14 like-minded members of Balochistan Assembly submitted a no-confidence motion against Sanaullah Zehri of the PML-N, triggering a political crisis in the province.

The provincial chief minister lost his majority overnight when disparate political parties came together, lending credence to the conspiracy theories about the security establishment being involved in undermining Sharif. Sharif blamed the security agencies for manipulating the fall of the provincial government.

Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on 13 January 2018 took oath as chief minister of Balochistan after he mustered support of 41 lawmakers in the 65-strong Balochistan Assembly in the election held earlier in the day. Bizenjo later announced his cabinet, comprising 14 ministers and five advisers. Agha Liaquat of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) managed 13 votes while the National Party (NP) decided to stay out of the election.

With 11 Senators from Balochistan set to retire in March, there is an opportunity for the ruling PML-N to increase its Senate membership, where it had only 21 legislators out of the total 65. To do so, however, it was imperative that the party retain its strength in the Balochistan Assembly, which will elect Senators to the upper house. So now, the PML(N) will not be able to win a single seat from Baluchistan.

By 08 February 2018 at least 28 candidates from various political parties as well as independent candidates had filed their nomination papers for 11 Senate seats from Balochistan. The 23 seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for minority member. PML-Ns Ameer Afzal Khan Mandokhel, National partys Muhammad Akram, JUI-Fs Maulvi Faiz Muhammad, ANPs Nazimuddin Kakar, and BNP-Mengals Humayun Aziz were among the candidates for General seats. On the womens seats, PML-Ns Samina Zehri, National partys Tahira Khursheed, JUI-Fs Azra Syed would contest. Sana Jamali, Shama Parveen Magsi and Abida Azeem Azad will contest as independent candidates.

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Page last modified: 22-02-2018 14:07:35 ZULU