The power struggle in Balochistan


CM Jam Kamal and speaker Quddus Bizenjo lock horns

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal is facing serious challenge to his leadership from another stalwart of his own party Mir Quddus Bizenjo speaker Balochistan assembly. Quddus Bizenjo is a former Chief Minister of Baluchistan and was considered strong contender for the position of CM Baluchistan after the general elections in July 2018. But Jam Kamal outmaneuvered him and becomes chief minister.
The situation became very tense last month when Quddus Bizenjo declared Jam Kamal “incompetent” and “weak” chief minister. He further threatened to bring an in-house change against Jam Kamal with the help of disgruntled members of the provincial assembly. “If the change does not take place within the party then we will seek support in the opposition benches and we would be able to bring change with their support,” he told the media.
But Jam Kamal showed no nervousness in that situation and remained calm. He did not go on offensive against his opponents. Instead- he chooses the path of reconciliation and approached his opponent through Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, the chairman of the Senate, who enjoys a cordial relationship with both men. This move helped to bring down the political temperature and tension.

Jam Kamal seems in comfortable position at the moment. He not just enjoys the support of PM Imran Khan but also the support of powerful establishment. The establishment always played decisive role in the formation of the provincial government. So Jam Kamal will be able to survive until the real powers decide to bring change. He seems safe at the moment.

Now, both the speaker and the chief minister belong to the same political party – the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Formed a few months before the general election of 2018, BAP emerged as the single largest party in the province. 
It further cemented its role in forming government through a coalition with politico-national groups. The ruling party at the centre, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), also gave BAP a nod of approval.
Soon after assuming office in Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan faced a plethora of problems from inside and outside his political party. There had been several attempts in the past one year to dislodge him from power, but none proved successful.
A three-member committee, formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently, announced that the chief minister was making all possible efforts to ensure good governance in the province, therefore, he would continue to serve. It further added that all outstanding issues between Bizenjo and Jam Kamal Khan will be resolved.
Balochistan’s political dynamics involve hectic lobbying and tough bargaining to rope in multiple parties, from opposite ideologies, into a coalition. The politics in Baluchistan is so fractured that divided that no single party is in the position to win simple majority to form the government.    Similarly, this coalition, like the ones before it, has been made up of four political parties, and then there are the independent lawmakers.

Political observers, nevertheless, believe that a majority of the elected members of BAP or other coalition partners in Balochistan will not be too keen to endorse any move against the chief minister.
The matter of fact is that power struggle between the two heavy weights of BAP is not over yet.

 There seems a temporary lull before another political storm to bring the change. Jam Kamal has survived but battle is not over. Quddus Bizenjo considers himself as the ultimate choice for CM slot.
He played key role in turning the table against the PML-N chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri few months before the general elections.  He successfully dislodged Nawab Zehri after locking horns with him. So he will continue to try his luck against Jam Kamal. Sooner or later- he will make another attempt.
                                                     Khalid Bhatti

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