Balochistan’s political chessboard has been rearranged in the wake of Abdul Quddus Bizenjo’s election on Saturday as the new chief minister of the province. The development became possible after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ceded important political territory following the January 9th resignation of Nawab Sanaullah Zehri who despite earlier party assurances and arrangements could not see out his half-term (two and a half years). Zehri’s party thus stood dislodged from the government of the province — a significant change after more than four years in power because that meant that the PML-N was restricted to its power base Punjab alone — at least among provinces. Zehri’s forfeiture of the post meant that the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and its nominated candidate (Bizenjo) could install the next government. On Saturday, Bizenjo, a former deputy speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, successfully edged out Agha Syed Liaquat Ali of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) in the election and secured his place as the third chief minister of the province in a little over four years.
As a largely consensus candidate picked to fill the shoes of Nawab Zehri and Dr Abdul Malik, Bizenjo will have a remarkably short tenure — ranging from a few months to half a year at most. He will at least have a chance to live up to his commitment on good governance. His pledge to focus on its main ingredients — education, health and maintenance of law and order — will be tested over and over again given the volatility of the province. Whether or not there is any grain of truth to the alleged charges against his predecessor, Bizenjo stands to gain from the experience. Being a unanimously elected candidate, he can make good on his pledges thanks to the unqualified support of assembly members in running the administration.
Although Bizenjo’s share of the vote in the 2013 polls was both small and questionable, he has won plaudits as an assembly member. Several leading opposition politicians see him as the architect of peace in the restive Awaran district. We hope this is true for his own sake.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2018.