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The changing political face

A new political party in Balochistan brings together influential tribal elders but the chief is yet to be named

The changing political face

When the nationalist groups in Balochistan were flexing their muscles for the March’s Senate polls and upcoming general elections, the PML-N’s dissenting lawmakers and like-minded ‘influential’ politicians first toppled their own chief minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri’s government and then geared up efforts to form a new political party, naming it Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

Most of the MNAs and MPAs who were elected on PML-N tickets from Balochistan in the last general elections, are playing a vital role in the formation of the new party. The dismissal of PML-N led coalition government in Balochistan in January had already created a big political vacuum in the province, making space for another party.

Some tribal elders, senior politicians, dissenting lawmakers of PML-N and all the five MPAs of PML-Q, including Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, who succeeded Nawab Zehri, tried to bridge the gap by introducing a new political party. Apparently, dissenting lawmakers of PML-N and PML-Q are behind the new party.

Formally announcing the new party, Saeed Ahmed Hashmi, PML-Q’s former lawmaker, in a news conference at the Chief Minister Secretariat on March 29, spelt out the objectives of the party, saying that the new party aims at ensuring development in Balochistan, address ‘real’ issues to end prolonged sense of deprivation.

Saeed Ahmed Hashmi, flanked by Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, provincial ministers, senators and MPAs, said that after the General Council’s meeting, the new party would register with Pakistan Election Commission. We will contest the general elections and allocate seats for National and provincial assemblies on merit basis to the party members, he asserted. But, surprisingly, the ‘influential’ politicians have enjoyed a string of ‘successes’ before the announcement of the party. They have succeeded in not only securing six Senate seats but also managed to clinch the top slot of the upper house with the support of PPP and PTI.

“The BAP is a leading political force in Balochistan and is striving hard to address the real problems of the people,” says Senator Anwaar, interim central spokesman of BAP while talking to TNS.

Most of the MNAs and MPAs who were elected on PML-N tickets from Balochistan in the last general elections, are playing a vital role in the formation of the new party.

A unique feature of the party is that it made concerted effort to bring together some influential tribal elders and different political parties. “The new party is all set to contest upcoming general elections and emerge as the single largest party,” say BAP supporters.

However, the politics in Balochistan is trickier than the rest of the country. Seldom a party has achieved a majority in Balochistan assembly. It’s always a coalition government with smaller groups. Most of the elected members have their ‘personal’ constituencies and practically they never needed support of any political party to win the election. On the contrary, these winnables joined parties for one reason or the other from time to time. They switch sides easily.

Seasoned politicians are engaged in formulating and finalising the manifesto which is likely to be announced next month. The General Council of the party would formally announce the name of the Chief of BAP and other office bearers in the next few days, it has been learnt.

On the other hand, State Minister for Petroleum Jam Kamal has resigned from his office and might join the BAP in the days to come. He told mediamen he believes that a new situation is emerging in Balochistan and they should use a new political platform instead of remaining with the mainstream parties.

Regarding the manifesto of the BAP, Senator Anwaar says, “We have to ensure law and order in the province. The party will flourish only if we work hard to achieve the set goals, otherwise it will diminish with the passage of time. We have to organise the party for positive change in the province.”

He was optimistic that many influential people having strongholds in certain areas of the province, including tribal elders, will be joining the party fold in near future.

Salient features of the proposed manifesto of the BAP are securing the political and economic rights of Balochistan, forging public-private partnerships to attract investment and end unemployment in the province, ensure law and order in the province, take measures for improvement of educational standards in the province and provision of health facilities to the people.

Muhammad Ejaz Khan

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