The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is reconsidering a 2013 confidential deal under which Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch has to step down halfway through his five-year constitutional term to allow a PML-N nominee to head the provincial government.
According to the deal signed by the three provincial coalition partners – PML-N, National Party (NP) and Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) – NP’s Dr Abdul Malik is to be replaced by Sardar Sanaullah Zehri of the PML-N halfway through his tenure.
Read: Balochistan deal: Sanaullah Zehri says he will be the next CM
However, leaders from the NP and PkMAP have managed to impress the PML-N central leadership with their performance, especially in maintaining law and order in the troubled province, sources close to the Prime Minister House have told The Express Tribune. While the NP and PkMAP leaders admit they will accept whatever the PML-N leadership decides, they are keeping in touch with the ruling party’s central leadership and not its provincial setup, which is trying its best to replace the incumbent chief executive of the province.
When asked, the chief minister’s spokesperson Jan Buledi said the Murree pact was a political agreement among three parties. “It depends on how the PML-N wants to implement it. We will accept whatever they decide,” he said.
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Usman Kakar, PkMAP’s provincial president and a senator, seconds Buledi. “We are committed to the Murree agreement,” he said. “The coalition government’s policy will remain the same even if the chief minister is replaced.”
Zamaruk Khan Achakzai, the Awami National Party’s (ANP) parliamentary leader in the Balochistan Assembly, believes the Murree pact was an agreement necessary for a coalition government and should be implemented.
Zamruk is a good friend of Zehri and wants see the PML-N leader in the Chief Minister House after December. He went on to say that commitments held an important place in the Baloch culture. Instead of the Balochistan government, he credited the army chief for the improvement in the law and order situation of Balochistan and Pakistan overall. “The current government did not do anything for security in the province,” he claims.
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PML-Quaid’s Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, the acting speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, said his party had been supporting the PML-N from the very first day. “The agreement should be implemented in letter and spirit,” he added.
The PML-N Balochistan spokesman, Alauddin Kakar, said he did not see any reason why the Murree agreement could not be implemented. “The next chief minister will be Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and it is his right,” he asserted.
He believes the PML-N sacrificed its own government following the decision of the central leadership. “Now it is time we should be given our legitimate right,” he added.
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Kakar is hopeful the PkMAP and NP will support his party in the future as well after Dr Malik is replaced. He warned that prolonging the matter would only create differences within the party. While the Murree pact has seen a huge debate in Balochistan, there are no visible signs of change in the near future at the Civil Secretariat or the Chief Minister Secretariat. But come December, there might be some political upheaval in store.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.