Farewell Candid Governor


Magsi22If Balochistan’s outgoing governor, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, is given an option to choose between his two terms as the province’s chief minister and the stint as the governor to determine his legacy, he should definitely opt for the latter.

As the governor of Balochistan during extremely troubled times, Mr. Magsi earned enough respect for his mature political approach, candor and a policy of non-interference in the affairs of the provincial government. Despite enjoying symbolic powers, he repeatedly reminded the Balochistan government, the Center and the Army that their policies and strategies  in Balochistan were flawed and immediately needed complete review.

After the incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L-N) agreed to appoint a new governor in Balochistan who would belong to the Pashtunkhaw Milli Awami Party, Governor Magsi has submitted his resignation to President Asif Ali Zardari. Governor Magsi, who is known as an introvert, had resigned from his job even a few years ago but President Zardari had insisted that he should continue on the job. Ironically, Mr. Magsi had  been appointed by former president General Pervez Musharraf as the representative of the federation in Quetta. There is certainly no hope for another extension of Mr. Magsi and now he has to go home.

Mr. Magsi worked with two of  Balochistan’s most incompetent and unpopular chief ministers, Jam Mohammad Yousaf (Pakistan Muslim League  Quaid-e-Azam) and Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani (Pakistan People’s Party). Yet, he tried his best to offer free advice to the two heads of the government. The past few years have seen deadly military operations, human rights abuses and sectarian killings in Balochistan but Governor Magsi surely cannot be blamed for these developments because the governor is not the chief executive of the province.

In January this year, (former) Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf imposed the governor’s rule in Balochistan owing to the increasing attacks on Shia, Hazara population. During these two months, Mr. Magsi served as the province’s chief executive and he did a relatively good job in containing sectarian violence. He did not ask for more power or an extension in the governor’s rule which was very helpful in restoring civilian rule in the province.

We know mere statements and talks do not make a good politician but if there is one thing for which Mr. Magsi will be remembered is his straightforwardness. He often publicly admitted that the Balochistan government comprised of corrupt and incompetent people. He admitted government’s failures. He was vocal in blaming the Pakistani military for carrying out a kill and dump policy in the province. In his views, the way forward to  change the state of affairs in Balochistan was the participation of “good people” in politics so that “corrupt people like us’ are thrown out of the political system. No politician gives such blunt advice!

Besides his political career, Mr. Magsi is also a powerful tribal chief of his Magsi Baloch tribe. We do not know for sure what he intends to do after leaving the Governor’s House. However, one does wish that men of his stature should not confine their intelligence, enormous political and administrative experience and vast wealth to only whining about the that-is-the-way-it-is type of system in Balochistan. He should play his role in changing the system at least at the societal level.

In order to improve the living conditions of the people of Balochistan  in general and the Magsi tribesmen in particular, Mr. Magsi should help in opening up the society in Balochistan. He can do so by establishing health and education centers in his native district and Quetta. Unfortunately, Balochistan does not have a tradition where retiring politicians spend their wealth on establishing centers of higher education. Someone has to take that big initiative for a brighter future of our coming generations.

During his stint, Mr. Magsi left a clear guidelines for his successor: Governors should limit themselves to their constitutional authority and refrain from picking up fights with the chief minister. They should, at the same time, continue to provide necessary advice to the head of the provincial government. We sincerely hope that Balochistan’s next Baloch chief minister and Pashtun governor will set a remarkable precedence of cordial relations, mutual respect and limitless cooperation in the greater interest of the people of Balochistan.

Lastly, it is actually for the people of Balochistan to decide whether or not they will ever miss Governor Magsi. We look at him as a good governor who worked with two horrible chief ministers. During his term, Mr. Magsi kept the Governor’s House apolitical yet opened his doors for all.

Published in The Baloch Hal on June 3, 2013

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