Prominent political parties in Balochistan have decided to contest the upcoming general elections, unlike the 2008 boycott, which they call “a political mistake”.
“It’s our joint strategy to go for the 2013 general elections at all costs,” the chief of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal group, Akhtar Mengal, said.
However, he stressed the implementation of his six points for a long-term solution to the problems the province is facing.
Local political parties should resume political activities in Balochistan without any interference by the intelligence agencies, he added.
Moreover, former senator and leader of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Shahid Bugti said that Baloch political parties should not boycott 2013 polls like as they did in 2008. “Elections are the only solution to restore peace in the province,” Bugti said.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Abdul Rahim Mandokhail stressed upon holding elections in Balochistan. “We’re waiting for a fresh announcement on the elections. Governor’s rule is not acceptable to our party,” he said.
National Party Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo said his party is considering forging an alliance with PkMAP and BNP-Mengal in the province.
Potential problems for ECP
Balochistan has had more than its fair share of troubles. And while the participation of the parties this time around can be seen as a good news, the road ahead is a rocky one for one stakeholder: the ECP.
Elaborating upon the fragile security situation of the province, Senate Deputy Chairman Sabit Baloch said that hostility in Balochistan, especially in sensitive areas such as Dera Bugti, is a cause of concern for the ECP.
“It is a litmus test for the ECP to hold elections in the province,” Akhtar Mengal said.
Other political parties
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Mir Jan Jamali said that his party still enjoys maximum support in the province. He felt, however, that feudalism dominated over real politics, where important personalities, not the electorate, take the final decision in the polls.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz appears to be a major stake holder in the province as it is inching towards a grand alliance with some major political parties. “We are heading towards an alliance with several political parties in Balochistan,” Senator Mushahidullah Khan said.
Leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, who have repeatedly been staging walkouts from the Senate against the imposition of Governor’s Rule in Balochistan, pressed for early elections in the province. “We are anxiously waiting for polls,” said JUI-F Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.
Independent voices described the upcoming polls as a battle between voters and insurgents.
“The 2013 elections would be an epic battle between violent groups and Baloch political parties,” predicted an independent Senator Humayyun Mandokhail.
“It has become inevitable, for all political forces, to play a part and show responsibility for bringing peace through elections in the troubled province,” he added.
Groups against parliamentary politics
The Baloch National Front, a political alliance of eight Baloch nationalist organisations, has warned democratic Baloch parties against participating.
Several Baloch leaders told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that certain ‘violent groups’ have threatened them. Leaders of the NP and PkMAP claimed that they may become aprime target.
The Baloch Students Organisation (BSO)-Awami, Baloch People’s Liberation Front and BSO-Azad – which is now divided two other groups, BSO Mohiuddin and BSO Baijar – are running this campaign in the province.
Balochistan Republican party (Brahamdagh) and Balochistan Libration Army (Harbyar) are rumoured to be against the general elections. When contacted, however, Harbyar Marri, preferred to just cryptically say: “I will announce my agenda later.”
Baloch People’s Liberation Front formed by Sher Mohammad Marri is campaigning to boycott the general elections in the province while the Popular Front for Armed Resistance has fought against the deployment of the army.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.
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