Unanimous vote: Sanaullah Zehri elected new Balochistan chief minister

Rahila Durrani becomes first female speaker of provincial assembly

Dr Abdul Malik Baloch congratulates Sanaullah Zehri after the latter’s election as Balochistan chief minister. PHOTO: NASEEM JAMES/EXPRESS


Nawab Sanaullah Zehri of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was unanimously elected as the new chief minister of Balochistan on Thursday, with fellow party MPA Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani making history by becoming the first female speaker of the Balochistan Assembly.

Zehri’s election took place with Rahila in chair in her capacity as the new speaker after house proceedings resumed at 4:50pm. All 54 members of the Balochistan Assembly unanimously gave Zehri their vote of confidence. He was administered the oath of office by Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai at the Governor’s House in Quetta later in the day.

Upon election, Zehri dedicated his tenure to the martyrs of Balochistan, including members of the armed forces, paramilitary and law enforcement agencies, and the civilians who lost their lives since 2002. All of them sacrificed their lives for the people of Balochistan, he said.

The newly-elected chief minister said he intended to introduce a wide range of measures to improve governance, security and the quality of life in Balochistan.

In particular, he said his government will invite militant groups and political organisations for talks to end unrest and bring about reconciliation in the province, “but only if they want to live within the framework of united Pakistan and work for the betterment of the people of Balochistann.” He stressed that his government “will not tolerate terrorism.”

Zehri also pledged to provide clean drinking water and better health and education facilities to all residents of the province, and to defend the rights of minorities and women in all walks of life.

“We will make Balochistan a peaceful place so that upcoming generations remember us with good words,” he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday made a telephonic call to Zehri and congratulated him on his election. He expressed his hope that Balochistan would develop and prosper under Zehri’s leadership and extended his full support to the provincial government.

Zehri thanked Nawaz and assured that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure stability and progress in Balochistan.

Opposition support

Following Zehri’s election, Leader of Opposition in the Balochistan Assembly Maulana Abdul Wasay announced his unconditional support for the new chief minister.

Talking to reporters at the Opposition Chamber of the Assembly building, he said that Zehri had assured him he would remove all concerns and reservations of the opposition.

Wasay claimed that the previous chief minister’s government had “disappointed people to the core,” and said the opposition would treat the new government the same way it treated its predecessor if it adopted similar policies and tactics.

First woman speaker

Earlier in the day, PML-N’s Rahila Durrani was elected unopposed as the speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, becoming the first woman to hold the office in the province’s history.

The position fell vacant after Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali resigned on May 22 in line with the PML-N’s decision. Abdul Qudus Bizenjo had been filling in as acting speaker since then.

Before Rahila’s election, Thursday’s Balochistan Assembly session was chaired by Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) MPA Liaquat Agha. The PkMAP lawmaker both acted as the presiding officer for the speaker’s election and administered the oath of office to Rahila Durrani.

Rahila’s only opponent, Mufti Gulab Khan of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, filed his nomination papers after the time fixed for this had expired. As such, the returning officer rejected Gulab’s nomination and enabled Rahila’s unopposed election as speaker.

In her speech, Rahila thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, National Party President Hasil Khan Bizenjo, PkMAP President Mehmood Khan Achakzai and PML-N Balochistan President and newly elected chief minister of the province Nawab Sanaullah Zehri for nominating her for the speaker’s office. She vowed to serve impartially, stressing that “I am the speaker of the entire house, not just one party.”

Parliamentary leaders, the leader of opposition and minority and women MPAs in the Balochistan Assembly congratulated Rahila on her election.

Former Balochistan chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said, “We are making history by electing the first ever female speaker of the Balochistan Assembly and have proved that we are giving women their due rights in our province.” He hoped that Rahila would ensure the house runs smoothly.

Newly elected Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri said, “We have dispelled the notion that women don’t get their rights in Balochistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2015.


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