A governor’s fury

Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi

The Baloch Hal Editorial: A governor’s fury

By Malik Siraj Akbar

Poor governance has been the hallmark of the current provincial government in Balochistan which has appointed forty-nine members of the provincial assembly (MPAs) out of 65 members as ministers in the cabinet. Growing lawlessness, increasing kidnappings and unbounded highway robberies have further dented the image of the Quetta government. People living in the province normally do not vent their opinion on bad governance and corruption in the government for obvious reasons. Yet, Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi has come up with the worst criticism one could ever imagine against the PPP-led coalition government. Some details:

Incensed over the poor performance of the government, Governor Magsi, while talking to a group of lawyers, said all the land lord members of the Balochistan Assembly, including himself (Magsi) should be hanged as a punishment because they do not only harbor criminals but also use them to consolidate their grip on the power. He urged the lawyers to wage a campaign against the Balochistan government similar to the one launched against former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf.

Magsi had a point when he said everyone in the government knew who had actually kidnapped a senior high court lawyer for several weeks. Hours after the governor’s statement, the lawyer was, surprisingly, freed. This indicates that Magsi is not merely shouting angrily but speaking with facts. If the government knew where the lawyer had been kept, why did one have to wait for several weeks until the governor would be required to come in public and say that everyone (perhaps in the government) who had kidnapped the senior attorney.
When asked why the police in Quetta had failed to uproot lawlessness, the representative of the president of Pakistan had a very straightforward explanation. Quoting the inspector general of the police in Quetta, the governor said every time a criminal was rounded up by the police, high officials from the provincial government would make a phone call to entice the police to liberate the criminals. He wondered how democracy, justice and tranquility would prevail in a society which was so badly dominated by the influential war lords. The only remedy, according to Magsi, is a social change led by the educated people of Balochistan.

In what could be the worst criticism of on the provincial government, the governor said, all members of the Balochistan Assembly were incompetent and entirely corrupt. They would forget their responsibilities after managing to acquire the money earmarked for different developmental schemes. The ministers never turn back at the people of the province once they are provided the money from the official exchequer to improve the people’s lot. Furthermore, Magsi believes target killings are not the sole problem Balochistan faces right now. Therefore, the deployment of FC should not be seen as a means to solve all problems of Balochistan. The province is further confronted with massive robbery, financial corruption, nepotism and other forms of evils. The government is tasked to fight all these menaces to make Balochistan a prosperous province.

The government in Quetta has not uttered a word in response to Governor Magsi’s harsh comments which should have ideally attracted the attention of the provincial rulers.

Known for his candid views, Governor Magsi derives his confidence from the fact that he had already resigned from his office one and half years ago. The President of Pakistan had refused to accept his resignation after he was requested by different ministers from Balochistan not to do so. Since then, Islamabad has not been able to find a more suitable person to govern the province as the representative of the federal government. When Magsi was asked why he does not resign if the situation in the province is out of control, he proudly reminded the journalists that he had resigned from his position much earlier. “I have used all means to pressurize Islamabad to accept my resignation but they have not accepted it in spite of a lapse of one and half years,” he commented.

In a province that does not have a leader of the opposition, Governor Magsi’s criticism sounds like an opposition leader’s speech. There is surely a big difference between what an opposition leader and the governor of a province have to say. The governor’s remarks should extraordinarily embarrass the provincial government and force to rethink its performance.

Given the recent political history of Balochistan, it is clear that there are no rifts between Governor Magsi and CM Raisani. Unlike the Punjab, the relations between the head of the province and the provincial government have been very cordial. Therefore, no one can say that Magsi accused the Raisani government of bad governance out of some personal differences. His insinuation for hanging all the ministers cannot be encouraged. What, nonetheless, needs to be done urgently is to ensure checks and balances in the government.

CM Raisani should ponder over Magsi’s flak in an effort to exterminate rampant corruption and mismanagement from his government because this time sharp criticism against his government does not come from ‘negative and one-sided media’ but the constitutional head of the province.

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