The Fine Line Between Trusting Sharif And Surrendering Before Him


sharifIt is unfortunate that political parties in Balochistan are entirely dependent on the incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif to decide a chief minister for Balochistan. While it is always good to take the head of the country’s largest party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz,  into confidence and respect his decision about the next chief executive of the province, it should, at the end of the day, be the elected representatives of Balochistan to make a final decision for their province.

The Balochistan chapter of the Pakistan Muslim League, the Pashtunkhawa Milli Awami Party (P.K.M.P.) and the National Party, the likely future coalition partners, have reposed their complete trust in Mr. Sharif to decide who would become the next CM but Mr. Sharif, on his part, has proved unable to decide who could be a more responsible and effective head of the provincial government.

Balochistan’s parties should now take a step back and realize that they have to start learning how to resolve their domestic problems without necessarily remaining so heavily dependent on leaders outside Balochistan.

The provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (K.P.) and Sindh have already elected their chief executives while Balochistan remains undecided even on the day when the provincial legislature has been summoned.

The P.K.M.P. and the N.P. have agreed upon the name of Dr. Malik Baloch, N.P.’s president, for Balochistan’s C.M. Actually, his name was proposed by the P.K.M.P. as an unusual gesture of good will. As a party that has more seats than the N.P., the P.K.M. P in fact had a wonderful opportunity to ask for a Pashtun to be appointed on the coveted position for the first time. The P.K.M.P. could also cite the poor performance of former Baloch chief ministers Aslam Raisani and Jam Yousaf as reasons to give a chance to a Pashtun to run the province. But the P.K.M.P. still give more importance to Balochistan’s broader interests instead of merely struggling for the interests of the Pashtun community.

Thus, the P.M.L.-N should respect the collective nomination of two future coalition partners. After all, the P.K.M.P. and the N.P. collectively have more seats than the P.M.L-N in the Balochistan Assembly. Another part of the problem for the delay in choosing a chief minister is lack of consensus among the leaders of the P.M.L.-N. Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the party’s provincial president and central leader Nawabzada Jangiz Marri both seem to be struggling to become the next chief minister. Outside the P.M.L-N circle, there is even absolute consensus across the spectrum  that both of the P.M.L-N leaders do not have the credentials to become the C.M.

The job of the chief minister is not a an opportunity only but it is indeed a major responsibility. The Baloch and Pashtun nationalist leadership should become more assertive in putting forward their demands in front of Nawz Sharif. After all, there are very high public expectations attached to the P.K.M.P. and the National Party when they form the government. If  they remain submissive to Mr. Sharif to an annoying degree during the initial days then one wonders how they will be able to aggressively fight Balochistan’s case against the federal government and the security establishment. The election of the chief minister is just the first step toward an extremely bumpy journey. The nationalists are expected to accomplish too much on very critical issues such as the ubiquitous influence of the intelligence agencies in Balochistan’s society and politics; the military operation and enforced disappearances.

We expect Balochistan’s elected representatives to have confidence in their mandate and prove that they are able to make key decisions for their province. Mr. Sharif should be taken into confidence while deciding the future CM but it is imprudent to give him absolute and unconditional authority to decide the future of our province.

Also, we believe all key decisions regarding Balochistan should be made in Quetta, not in Lahore and Islamabad. If there was limited influence of other provinces in forming of the new governments in  Sindh and K.P., there is no reason why Balochistan’s important decisions should be taken to Lahore for what would eventually look like an ‘imposed resolution’. The coalition parties should refrain from encouraging outside influence on the province’s political affairs and do whatever it takes to empower Balochistan to the extent that it is self-reliant to make key decisions.

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