Political crisis in Balochistan

Assuming all opposition members vote against him, just three defectors from ruling coalition could bring down the govt


October 13, 2021

The political crisis in Balochistan continues to deepen as disgruntled members of the ruling Balochistan Awami Party have filed a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Jam Kamal. Within hours of the filing, Balochistan Governor Zahoor Agha rushed to Islamabad to consult with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The motion, carrying the signatures of 14 lawmakers, was filed five days after the passage of an ultimatum deadline given by Kamal’s own cabinet for him to resign. Members of the rebel group also repeated their call for the chief minister to resign before rather than being voted out.

Kamal’s loss of support has been remarkably swift, with even coalition partners calling for him to quit. This also further complicates his problems, as the BAP government is unlikely to survive as a minority government if even one of its coalition partners decides to walk away. We already know that the opposition wants him out, given the no-confidence they filed in September. That motion failed to come to a vote because of a technical mistake in the document.

Kamal, meanwhile, continues to claim that he can survive a no-trust vote, although the numbers do not appear to support his position. The BAP only has 24 seats in the 65-seat assembly, and the coalition as a whole only has 35 seats. Assuming all opposition members vote against him, just three defectors from the ruling coalition could bring down the government. Also, given the large number of cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries that have said they would not continue working with him, Kamal could actually snag some opposition support and still end up going down.

The crisis is also a reminder of the fragility of patchwork governments and parties. BAP quite literally came up overnight in 2018, with its top leadership almost entirely composed of defectors from the PML-N and PML-Q. Despite BAP emerging as the single largest party in the province in 2018, fissures were clearly evident, and they have only grown since then. Former PML-N chief minister Sanaullah Zehri, who resigned amid the political upheaval that led to the creation of the BAP, is probably having a chuckle right now.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2021.

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