Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on Saturday took oath as chief minister of Balochistan after he mustered support of 41 lawmakers in the 65-strong Balochistan Assembly in the election held earlier in the day. Bizenjo later announced his cabinet, comprising 14 ministers and five advisers.
Agha Liaquat of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) managed 13 votes while the National Party (NP) decided to stay out of the election.
Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai administered the oath to Bizenjo – the 16th chief minister of the province – and his cabinet members at the Governor House.
List of new ministers appointed to Balochistan Assembly
Mostly comprising old faces, Bizenjo’s cabinet include Jangayz Marri, Sarfaraz Bugti, Tahir Mehmood, Jafar Khan Mandokhail, Abdul Majid Abro, Agha Raza, Akber Askani, Asim Kurd Gelo, Asim Rind, Manzoor Khan Kakar, Ahmed Ali, Sarfaraz Khan Domki, Mir Ghulam Dastagir Badini and Rahat Jamali.
Talking to media after taking oath, the newly-elected CM thanked ‘all honourable members who supported and stood with me to lead the province’.
“Despite being elected for a short period, we all have to work fast and sincerely. I won’t bear any delaying tactics in development projects because we all have to work together for providing relief to the people of Balochistan,” he said.
Disclosing his policy for the Baloch insurgents who are waging a war against the state, Bizenjo said it was his priority to bring all disgruntled Balochistan people to the negotiating table.
“We want to bring all Baloch fighters into the mainstream politics and we assure them they will be treated on a par with other citizens of Pakistan,” he said. “We, however, won’t allow anyone to challenge the writ of the government.”
Floor crossing at its peak
During the Saturday’s polling, a number of legislators crossed the floor and voted against their party’s will. MPA Manzoor Khan Kakar of the PkMAP violated his party’s instruction and voted for Bizenjo instead of Agha Liaquat.
Later the PkMAP sacked Kakar and announced a legal action against him under Article 163(A).
“Being the PKMAP’s parliamentary leader, it is my responsibility to take action against Manzoor Kakar for his move against party’s decision,” Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal said while speaking on the assembly floor.
“Kakar’s decision has not only damaged our trust in him, but he has also violated Article 163(A) of the Constitution by crossing the floor. We will approach the Election Commission of Pakistan to get him de-seated,” Ziaratwal added.
Kakar later appeared on the TV screen, taking oath as minister in the Bizenjo’s cabinet.
The NP, which is the third largest party in the house, had announced that it would stay out of the voting, but NP legislators, including the CM’s former adviser on finance Khalid Langove, former minister for sports Mujeebur Rehman Hassani and Fateh Buleti, appeared in the assembly and voted in favour of Bizenjo.
“Indeed, I have betrayed my party and turned my face away from the party decision, but I had to … because Quddus Bizenjo has been supportive to me since my arrest,” Langove said.
“I had been left alone by former CM Sanaullah Zehri when I needed him the most,” he said referring to a mega corruption scandal in which he is an accused.
Majority of the PML-N leaders including Nawab Jangayz Marri and Tahir Mehmood attended the assembly to vote for Bizenjo by crossing the floor. Marri and Mehmood have also been included in the newly-formed cabinet.
The election took place after Balochistan’s former chief minister Sanaullah Zehri handed in a resignation prior to a no-confidence vote supported by many disgruntled members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Who is new Balochistan CM?
Born in 1974, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo completed his initial education in his native town of Shindi located in remote Awaran tehsil, and secured a master’s degree in English from the University of Balochistan in 2000.
Retracing the steps of his father, who was thrice elected from Awaran, Bizenjo commenced his political career from his home town Shindi Jhao Awaran.
Elected as Balochistan Assembly for the first time in 2002 from PB-41 Awaran, Bizenjo was sworn in as provincial minister for livestock and dairy development in Jam Yousuf’s cabinet. In 2008, he was re-elected on PML-Q’s ticket and joined Nawab Aslam Raisani’s cabinet as minister for livestock, successfully completing a five-year tenure.
After contesting general elections in 2013 again on PML-Q’s ticket, Bizenjo was elected MPA for a third time. When he joined he PML-N-led coalition government in the province, Bizenjo was nominated as deputy speaker of the Balochistan Assembly in June 2013.
During the Senate election in 2015, Speaker Jan Muhammad Jamali quit the ruling PML-N and tendered his resignation from his post just before a no-trust motion was tabled against him. He resigned as deputy speaker when CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri nominated Raheela Durrani as new speaker of the provincial assembly.
On January 2, Bizenjo and 14 like-minded members of Balochistan Assembly submitted a no-confidence motion against Sanaullah Zehri of the PML-N, triggering a political crisis in the province. The crisis was averted on January 9 after Zehri tendered his resignation to Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai minutes before the no-confidence motion against him.