Balochistan Assembly’s crucial session today
PM consults coalition parties in Quetta
Governor Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai has called Balochistan Assembly’s special session today (Tuesday), in which no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri will be presented.
Earlier, Member of Provincial Assembly, belonging to Pakistan Muslim League-Q Sheikh Jaffar Mandokhail left and joined the group that has tendered resignations following filing of a no-confidence motion against chief minister Sanaullah Zehri.
Number of ministers who have resigned over issues with Zehri has hit six and according to the dissenting group comprising opposition members, Pakistan Muslim League-N and PML-Q, the toll would increase in coming 24 hours.
Mandokhail is visiting Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and has confirmed the resignation through his spokesperson observing that he stands with his party and fellow members.
On the other hand, leaders of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F, Awami National Party and Balochistan National Party-Mengal convened a joint meeting to review the prevailing political situation in the province.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reached Quetta Monday and presided a meeting of coalition parties in the Balochistan government and held consultations over a no-confidence motion against Sanaullah Zehri.
The Prime Minister was received by Chief Minister Zehri. Upon arrival at the Governor House, a smartly turned-out contingent of police presented guard of honour to the prime minister.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Zahid Hamid, Safron Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch and State Minister for Petroleum Jam Kamal accompanied Premier Abbasi. Following his arrival, the governor and chief minister of Balochistan held meetings with the prime minister.
A spokesperson for the Balochistan chief minister said that those claiming to have the support of 40 MPAs could not gather more than 20 legislators at their recently held dinner meeting.
Zehri has reportedly said that he will fight against the no-confidence motion and will prove his support in the house.
Meanwhile, the opposition in the Balochistan Assembly on Monday turned down an invitation for a meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
“We have decided not to meet the Prime Minister”, Leader of the Opposition Maulana Abdul Wasey said while speaking to media, explaining that he and his followers could not “ride two boats.”
A bigger blow for Zehri and the PML-N was the refusal of some of its own members to meet the chief executive.
“We are at the point of no return,” Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, the former home minister for Balochistan said.
“I have a good relationship with the prime minister, but this is a political decision,” Bugti added.
Last week, 14 MPAs on the opposition benches filed a motion of no-confidence against Zehri. The house comprises 65 members, and 33 members are required for a successful push against the incumbent chief minister.
According to media reports, 27 MPAs have expressed support for the move against Zehri so far, six MPAs short of the 33 required to make the move successful.
With 11 Senators from Balochistan set to retire in March, there is an opportunity for the ruling PML-N to increase its Senate membership, where it currently only has 21 legislators out of the total 65.
To do so, however, it is imperative that the party retain its strength in the Balochistan Assembly, which will elect Senators to the upper house.
This is why recent reports of cracks within the party — to which Chief Minister Zehri himself belongs — is a major blow for the PML-N.
So far, the turmoil in the Balochistan Assembly has seen former home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, Sardar Sarfaraz Domki and Prince Ahmed Ali tender their resignations.
Judging by the mood setting in, it seems the Chief Minister will find it difficult to keep his parliamentary party united in these crucial times.
He has, however, started playing his own cards, with the sacking of PML-Q’s Mir Amanullah Notezai as his special assistant on excise and taxation being his first counter-move. In the midst of this crisis, Zehri did heave a sigh of relief when two of his government’s coalition partners — the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and the National Party — publicly offered him some words of support.