Baloch nationalist set to return to Senate
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: The most exciting thing about the upcoming Senate elections from Balochistan, for which as many as 50 candidates from various political parties filed their nomination papers on Friday, is the submission of nomination papers by Baloch nationalist leader Mir Hasil Khan Bizanjo of the National Party (NP).
This is seemingly the formal return of a key Baloch nationalist outfit to parliamentary politics after abandoning the parliament one year ago in protest against the general elections that were held under the leadership of the former president Pervez Musharraf. Along with the Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal), the National Party has been conducting prolonged internal discussions either to give up the parliament where Balochistan has too little representation to get its issues properly resolved or to participate in parliamentary politics while living within the constitutional jurisdiction of the federation.
When NP, which is also a component of the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM), boycotted last year’s general elections, some senior party leaders, including Sardar Sanaullha Zehri, the then vice president of the party, and Agha Irfan Karim, resisted the decision so much so that they quit the party and went ahead to contest the general elections. While Sanaullah Zehri formed his own faction of the party called the National Party Parliamentarians (NPP), Agha Irfan Karim, on the other hand, joined the Pakistan People’s Party. Currently, both the NP defectors are ministers in the cabinet of the Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, the Balochistan chief minister.
Ironically, the NP had boycotted the general elections by saying that it had lost faith in the parliamentary politics, it continued to retain its sole seat in the Senate where its president, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, is still representing the party.
The issue of remaining in or outside of the parliament arose in its latest phase when the Baloch leader Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in a military operation on August 2006. In protest against Bugti’s killing, the Balochistan National Party (BNP) submitted resignations from the Parliament. However, the National Party refused to follow suit and attracted tremendous flak by being termed as a party with close links with the ruling party.
A political analyst told Daily Times that after receiving a cold response from the BNP, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was now intending to take the National Party on board as a part of its reconciliation process in the province. “It is surprising that the National Party is contesting for the Senate elections at a time when it does not have a single party ticket-holder MPA in the assembly,” said the analyst, requesting anonymity, “surely, the NP leader is going to get himself elected for the Senate seat from the votes of the treasury benches.”
The party’s founding president Dr. Abdul Hayee Baloch, a Baloch hawk, still argues that the decision of boycotting the general elections was a right decision. However, the party president Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch said in a recent press conference that boycotting the elections was a blunder his party had committed.
A political expert termed the return of the NP senior leader in the parliamentary politics a big success of the ruling PPP which had managed to ‘tone down the heating political temperatures’.
Hasil Khan Bizanjo is the son of late Mir Ghose Baksh Bizanjo, the top leader of the earstwhile National Awami Party (NAP) who was also given the title of the father of Balochistan in his life time.
Meanwhile, as many as 50 candidates submitted their nomination papers at the Quetta office of the Election Commission of Pakistan to contest on 11 Senate Seats. 25 forms were submitted against general seats, 16 on women’s and 9 for technocrat seats.
Family Ties: As usual, family relations of top politicians are playing an interesting role in the Senate elections from Balochistan where the big wigs of Balochistan government have pitted their loved ones in the race. The brothers of Balochistan Governor as well as that of the Chief Minister are participating in the Senate elections. Nawabzada Muhammad Akbar Magsi, the younger brother of Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, whose wife, Perveen Magsi, is a minister in the Balochistan government and a brother, Tariq Magsi, is a member of the Balochistan Assembly, is contesting Senate elections.
Balochistan president of the People’s Party Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani, who is also the younger brother of Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, has submitted his nomination papers.
Salma Saeed Hashmi, whose mother Ruqaya Saeed Hashmi is a provincial minister and father is a Senator from the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam, is contesting the elections as a newcomer while a similar case is that of Mir Changiz Khan Jamali, the son of leading PPP leader and former chief minister of Balochistan Taj Mohammad Jamali. Shehnaz Umrani, the wife of Balochistan minister for communication and works, Mir Saidq Umrani, has submitted her nomination papers for a reserved seat. Balochistan National Party leader Mir Mohammad Ali Rind and his ex-wife Mrs. Farha Azeem Shah have also become the attention of the ongoing senate electoral race.