19 September 2013

Balochistan cabinet conundrum

Courtesy: Pak tea House

On 9th June, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch took oath as Chief Minister of Balochistan. He is the first Chief Minister in history of Balochistan who belongs to the middle class. The selection of Dr. Malik triggered a wave of happiness amongst the people of Balochistan that some of their problems will be solved. In the Balochistan assembly, PML-N had clear majority but Nawaz Sharif made a landmark decision by nominating Dr. Malik for the Chief Minister-ship of the troubled province. Since then, there has been a long wait for the formation of the cabinet of Balochistan. Three ministers took oath soon after Dr. Malik but they have not been allotted portfolios. Now it has been almost 100 days that Cabinet has not been formed and the Balochistan cabinet conundrum continues to be a problem for the people.

A meeting of PML-N, Pashtoon Khaw Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) and National Party was held in Murree about Balochistan government. In this meeting not only was Dr. Malik nominated as the CM but an agreement was also reached upon the allocation of ministries among coalition partners. However, PML-Q announced their unconditional support for PML-N and things started to change regarding the agreement on ministries. After 18th amendment, number of ministers has been restricted to higher of 15 or 11% of assembly members. In case of Balochistan 15 is higher, so this time all the members of coalition can’t be allotted ministers like the government of former CM Nawab Raisani. Now, a deadlock arose on matter of ministries because PML-N wants lion’s share of ministries for two reasons. First it has a clear majority in the assembly and secondly it has to give some ministries to PML-Q, their new partner in dirty politics of Balochistan.

National party and PKMAP have done their homework and chosen their ministers but it’s PML-N which keeps on asking for more and more ministries. The issue has taken almost 100 days and still there is no sign of a resolution. Through newspaper statements people are told that the cabinet will take oath in few days, but those few days period never seems to arrive. A few days ago, even JUI-F was asked to enter the coalition and offered 3 ministries but they declined citing the number of ministries to be too few. PML-N Balochistan, led by Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, wants to make a government with the help of PML-Q and JUI-F, and wants to dump PKMAP and National Party, according to news reports. This cabinet conundrum seems to linger on and the people are just waiting in confusion.

Now what’s the problem if cabinet has not been formed? The entire functioning of the provincial government has become paralysed due to lack of a cabinet. The day to day affairs of government departments are being run by bureaucrats who care little about common people. It’s not the 100 days only when Balochistan is without a cabinet, because there has been no cabinet since December last year, when governor rule was imposed, which was followed by the Caretaker setup which only had a CM. Therefore since December last year there are no ministers in Balochistan and the ability of the government to work for the welfare of people has ceased to exist. Development programs can’t be initiated without the presence of a cabinet. Jobs can’t be advertised for hiring without a cabinet, so on and so forth. It’s not a problem of governance only, but it has deeply affected common people of restless province of Balochistan.

According to the local newspapers and the rumours heard in the provincial capital, it’s Sardar Sanaullah Zehri who has been the impediment in creating a cabinet, because he wants more ministries. He has one more grievance, despite being the leader of majority party; that he was not nominated CM and instead Dr. Malik, of a minority party, was made CM. Keeping that in mind Sardar Sanaullah is not willing to compromise and wants maximum number of ministries for his party members. There are also rumours that Dr. Malik is Chief Minister for the next few months only and after that PML-N will form its own government with the help of opposition members and Sardar Sanaullah will be the new chief executive. This power struggle in Balochistan is taking its toll on the people who are suffering unnecessarily. In greater interests of people of Balochistan PM Nawaz Sharif should intervene and persuade his party members to stop impeding the formation of cabinet by making some compromises. Formation of cabinet will only start the process which is meant to bring betterment in the lives of a common Balochistan citizen.

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