ISLAMABAD: The embattled chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Aslam Raisani, has announced that a provincial cabinet meeting will be held three hours before a provincial assembly session on November 13.
Chief Minister Raisani will assess his strength in the assembly during the cabinet session as he plans to win a fresh vote of confidence from the house, according to a senior government official.
Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani, on the other hand, merely said, “The cabinet will decide the business of the assembly session.”
The much-needed vote of confidence, however, will depend on how many ministers attend the cabinet meeting, said the official.
Significantly, all members of the provincial assembly, except one, are cabinet members or public office holders. “The cabinet meeting, therefore, should be considered an assembly session,” a source told The Express Tribune.
The chief minister has already failed to ensure the presence of all provincial ministers at a special cabinet meeting that was convened by him in Gwadar on November 9. Hardly 50 per cent of the ministers attended the meeting that was addressed by Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, sources said.
As a matter of routine, the provincial government usually facilitates Quetta-based journalists to travel to Gwadar on such occasions. No journalists, however, were invited to the November 9 cabinet meeting. So far, little headway has been made in resolving the constitutional crisis that threw the provincial government into disorder following the Supreme Court’s October 12 interim order on Balochistan’s law and order situation.
In the wake of the order which declared that the provincial government lacked authority, Governor Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi summoned the provincial assembly session for November 13.
However, Magsi left Quetta for a foreign trip, according to a senior official – although an official spokesperson for the governor told The Express Tribune that he has gone to Karachi and that he was not aware as to how long the governor will be away and whether he was going on a foreign trip.
Advocate General Kanrani, however, appeared to be under the impression that Magsi was going abroad. “In his absence from the country, Speaker Muhammad Aslam Bhootani will become the acting governor,” he said, adding that Deputy Speaker Syed Mattiullah Agha will conduct the session as acting speaker on Nov 13.
Earlier, Bhootani had made clear that he would not preside over the assembly session, saying that the chief minister was no longer competent to convene a session following the apex court’s order.
After refusing to preside over the session, Bhootani had told the governor that summoning the session would be unconstitutional and could be considered contempt of court.
Advocate General Kanrani, however, did not agree with the speaker’s contentions. “The speaker has no legal authority to resist the holding of an assembly session,” he added. “Summoning an assembly session, on the advice of the chief minister … is the constitutional and legal duty of the governor.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.