The turning tide in Balochistan

The development comes with its usual share of political troubles though

Editorial March 20, 2018

Despite crying itself hoarse over queering of the political pitch, the ruling party has landed the post of leader of opposition and emerged an equal partner along with Balochistan Chief Minister Abdus Quddus Bizenjo in deciding the future interim set-up. This entitles the ruling party to the kind of clout that Bizenjo has — owing to the status of leader of opposition, who together with the province’s chief executive earns the right of constitutional consultation. It also invalidates the PML-N narrative in the province.

The party had earlier claimed that the defeat of the PML-N and its allies — the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party — in the election of the Senate chairman and his deputy was snatched and engineered by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with the help of independents and turncoats. But even before that the PML-N had been crying about how its mandate was stolen in the wake of Bizenjo’s election as the chief minister. At one low point the ruling party had thought that the province had slipped out of its hands forever. And yet this has not happened. Democracy is a great leveller. It has given the party a new lease of life, balancing the odds stacked against it — again.

The development comes with its usual share of political troubles though. PkMAP representative Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal, the new leader of opposition, could turn things around by challenging the provincial chief minister and attempting to recoup losses for the PML-N.

But under the constitutional arrangement, the chief minister is obliged to nominate the interim provincial chief executive in consultation with the leader of the opposition. In the absence of a consensus, the two men could involve a parliamentary panel with equal representation to decide the nomination. The PML-N is counting on its old allies to reunite and form the largest parliamentary bloc. In that case it could add to the parliamentary strength of its allies. Wishful thinking. Maybe.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2018.

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