What Balochistan did not need at this juncture was yet more political uncertainty. The province has suffered mightily over decades at the political machinations of assorted players, some federal and others provincial, but of late has been experiencing an increased stability in large part because of the Murree Agreement. Post to the polls of May 2013 and in a remarkable display of unity, the three major political parties in the province — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the National Party (NP) and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) — had signed an agreement to share power. The agreement was that the chief minister would be from the NP and that half way through his tenure, he would step down to make way for another chief minister, this time from the PML-N, to take the seat. It was a bold and visionary plan, but always a plan with inherent pitfalls — primarily a reliance on everybody keeping to their word.
The half-way point is now at hand. It is reported that the PML-N, especially the Balochistan chapter thereof, is pushing for the deal to be implemented and will be telling Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif just that when he returns from the global climate change conference in Paris. Amidst the uncertainty, it is said that about 80 per cent of the civil service bureaucrats have downed pens in anticipation of a change in chief minister and all that can be certain is that the prime minister has not yet made up his mind in the matter.
Functionaries of the PML-N are said to have worked out a plan in the event of the decision going either way. There is mostly agreement that the incumbent has done well in the two and a half years he has been in the post, and the argument runs that it makes little sense to replace him, Murree Agreement or no Murree Agreement. Given the poor run of political luck in Balochistan, the argument has merit, against which must be set the argument for keeping to the letter of the agreement no matter what. All must be resolved by December 4, and the people of Balochistan await the outcome with interest.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2015.
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