January 10, 2018

Zehri out amid political crisis

QUETTA: Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri has submitted his resignation as Chief Minister Balochistan. Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai has accepted the resignation of Sanullah Zehri.

Annoyed members of the PML-N, PML-Q, JUI-F and other parties had submitted a no confidence motion in the assembly against Sanaullah Zehri a few days ago. According to a press release issued by the Chief Minister's Secretariat in Quetta, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri called on Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai and formally submitted his resignation to him.

According to a notification by the Government of Balochistan (Cabinet Section), "Consequent upon the resignation of the Chief Minister Balochistan, the provincial ministers and advisers to the chief minister Balochistan shall also cease to hold their offices with immediate effect."

As per the contents of his resignation, Nawab Zehri expressed the desire for continuation of the democratic process in the province. He said that he served the people of Balochistan to the best of his honesty and capability. Zehri said that he did not wish to cause problems in the political set-up of the province. He added that he was not in the habit of hanging onto power at any cost. Zehri said that moving forward along with the coalition partners is not easy but it was his desire the democratic set-up should continue in the province. Zehri said he had always done democratic politics and in future too he will move forward while becoming a part of the democratic process. He said that he was feeling from the past several days that his aides were not happy with him. Zehri said he will continue to serve the people.

Zehri's decision came after he was advised by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to resign in the light of the no confidence motion. According to sources, Abbasi advised the chief minister to resign to control the political situation in the province following his visit to Quetta.

The prime minister has also taken notice of the role of provincial lawmakers for letting the situation come to its present stage. In the conversation with the former chief minister after arriving back in Islamabad from Quetta, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Zehri that there was no need to put in efforts for saving the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government when even the party members were not onboard. Therefore, in order to avoid divisions within the party ranks and imminent horsetrading in the provincial assembly, he should leave the post before the no confidence motion, said Abbasi. That is in the party's interest, he added.

The prime minister had traveled to Quetta on Monday as a no confidence motion against Zehri gained momentum and was said to have the support of majority of lawmakers of the assembly, leading to fears of the chief minister's removal from office.

In the wake of Zehri's resignation, chances are that thenext chief minister will also be from the ruling PML-N with most likely candidates being Saleh Bhutani, Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, Mir Changhez Marri or Jan Muhammad Jamali.

PML-N leader and strong contender for the CM's slot, Jan Jamali, spoke to Hamid Mir in the Geo News programme ‘Capital Talk’. Jamali said the dynamics of the PML-N in Balochistan were different than in other parts of Pakistan.

While responding to a question about the next possible CM of the province and the role of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in it, Jamali said ‘we will take the decision ourselves'. “My ancestors were in the Muslim League, way before Nawaz Sharif was,” he said.

Opposition lawmakers were to table a no confidence motion against CM Zehri in the provincial assembly the same day but Zehri was reportedly asked to resign ahead of the session to spare his party, the PML-N, further embarrassment on the matter.

The session had been called after 14 members of the assembly on the opposition benches had filed a motion of no confidence against Zehri. The provincial lawmakers had expressed lack of confidence in Zehri, citing unfulfilled commitments, and consequently important ministers and advisers had recently turned dissidents, sparking a series of resignations and sackings.

A no confidence motion was submitted against Zehri on January 2 by MPAs Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Syed Agha Raza and had the signatures of 14 lawmakers. It is worth mentioning here that no confidence motions have been tabled against the chief ministers in the Balochsitan Assembly three times. Two times the no confidence motions remained successful, one against former chief minister Balochsitan Mir Taj Muhammad Jamali in 1993 and the other against former chief minister Balochistan Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal in 1998. However, Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri submitted his resignation prior to tabling the no confidence motion in the assembly session.

Talking to newsmen prior to the resignation, Balochistan opposition leader Maulana Wasay said it would be better if the chief minister acceded to the prime minister's advice. In order to retain his position as the chief minister, Zehri required the support of 33 members from the house of 65.

A political crisis developed in Balochistan following the no confidence motion with efforts stepped up by the PML-N, which has a government both in the Centre besides the province to defuse the situation.




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