ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League is likely to play a leading role in the formation of a coalition government in Balochistan, according to independent analysts who are closely monitoring the post-poll scenario.
However, the key to this coalition is in the hands of the Pushtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), which has emerged as a top winner with 9 seats in the 51- member provincial assembly, according to unofficial results. The PkMAP however contends that all of its 11 candidates have won, although officials in the provincial government do not agree and maintain it has only nine seats.
The PML-N is placed as the second largest parliamentary party with 8 seats, but it has attained the position of the single biggest party in the Baloch dominated areas of Balochistan. Two of its ethnic Baloch candidates, Nawabzada Changaiz Marri and Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch have also managed to win national assembly seats from Dera Bugti cum Kohlu and Kharan .
However, despite a high number of its members in the assembly it is bit difficult for a Pakhtoon party, the PkMAP, to take over in a Baloch dominated province. Traditionally, it is essential to be a ethnic Baloch to be the chief minister of Balochistan .
It is expected that Mir Sanaullah Zehri , president of Balochistan chapter of PML-N would be the next chief minister with a nominee of PkMAP as a senior minister. Jan Jamali , a former chief minister who recently joined PML-N is also an aspirant for the top slot.
The number of PML-N seats could increase as a few MPAs, particularly Mir Sarfraz Bugti who has been elected from Dera Bugti- Kohlu as an independent after defeating Nawab Aali Bugti could join it.
The National Party (NP) with its 5 to 6 seats can also be part of the coalition, and with the possible support of JUI-F may even be in the running for the cm slot.
However, for PkMAP, it would be hard to accept its bitter rival JUI-F in the coalition. Baloch nationalist parties would also prefer to keep the ethnic Pakhtoon members of JUI-F out of power. Keeping in view the political understanding between Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mehmood Khan Achakzai, political analysts have ruled out any tug of war between the two parties over the formation of the future government.
As the top party, the PkMAP has bright possibilities to nominate one of its Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) for the office of the chief minister in a coalition government with Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and other Baloch nationalists parties and few independents .
It is pertinent to mention here that Mehmood Khan Achakzai is obliged to Nawaz Sharif for his NA victory. Nawaz Sharif had withdrawn two of his candidates, Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch and Nawabzada Lashkari who had filed their nomination papers against Achakzai.
PkMAP was one of those parties in Balochistan that refused to take part in 2008 general elections under military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf on the appeal of Nawaz Sharif.
The PML-N initially also had boycotted the elections but suddenly decided to contest leaving PkMAP and other parties out of the election process. Political analysts view Nawaz Sharif’s support to Achakzai as compensation for the political loss PkMAP had to suffer due to the boycott.
If the PkMAP gets the cm slot, it will be the first time that an ethnic Pakhtun nationalist party will form its government in a province where ethnic Baloch had always dominated the assembly.
The fate of BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal is still unknown . According to media reports, the ECP has held the results of his constituency. However, it is claimed by BNP-M leaders that Mengal and his two candidates have won their seats from Gwadar and Quetta.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.