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Pakistan Reader
Political instability in Balochistan: Another Chief Minister, another no-confidence motion

  D. Suba Chandran

Despite the chief minister meeting with Imran Khan, the opponents have table a no-confidence against him. The tables are turned for Jam Kamal Khan Alyani

Finally, on 20 October 2021, a section of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), along with the members of the opposition in the legislative assembly, filed a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani. For the last few weeks, there have been tensions between the Chief Minister and the opposition and within the BAP. Demands were made against the Chief Minister, and an ultimatum was issued asking for his resignation before the formal filing of the no-confidence motion this week in Balochistan legislative assembly.

What went wrong between the Chief Minister and the opposition? And why are his own party members demanding his resignation?

The contemporary Baloch politics
As mentioned above, there are two sets of people in the Balochistan legislative assembly, converging on a common issue – the members of the opposition in the provincial assembly and a group of ruling party members who belong to the BAP.

In September 2021, a section within the opposition approached the Governor, asking for a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister. Failure of governance was cited as a primary reason for their demand. There were serious issues ranging from poverty, lack of education, violence, power and water shortages, unemployment etc.; some of these issues are structural and are a part of larger governance issues facing the province. Some are contemporary issues.

The surprising factor in the no-confidence motion is the support that it has received from the ruling party. The BAP, which has elected the Chief Minister, stands divided. During a meeting in early October, the BAP went into a crisis mode. Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, who is the President of the BAP as well, initially said he had resigned from the party’s position but later denied the same. According to a news report, he said: “I’m still president of the party and have not submitted a formally written resignation. I just tweeted I had resigned, but not formally. I will complete my constitutional term as president of Balochistan Awami Party.”

Meanwhile, members of the BAP who were opposed to Jam Kamal Alyani have elected Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi as the acting President. Buledi was one of the ten members who was sworn as the cabinet minister in 2018 when the BAP formed the government after the general elections.

The opponents of Jam Kamal Khan Alyani have rallied around Mir Ahmed Buledi. Today (22 October 2021), after initiating the no-confidence resolution against the Chief Minister, the dissidents have made the Buledi also the parliamentary leader of the party. Jam Kamal Khan has challenged the move and has asked the Speaker to verify the signatures of those who have selected Buledi.

The BAP has 24 seats in the provincial assembly that has 65 members in total. If 12 members of the party (according to the Balochistan provincial secretariat, 12 of them have submitted a letter) are supporting Buledi, then Jam Kamal Khan does not have the support of the majority even within his own party.

When the no-confidence motion was tabled early this week, there were 33 members backing the same. This means, the Chief Minister has already lost the majority support.

Jam Kamal Khan Alyani was hoping that Islamabad would intervene. National politics and the Deep State have always played a role in Baloch politics. The Chief Minister met Imran Khan last week. On 14 October, after meeting with Imran Khan, he was quoted by Dawn to have said on the proposed no-confidence motion against him: “It will be good if voting is held so that the situation becomes clear.”

If the motion is tabled even after his meeting with Imran Khan, what would that mean?

What is the issue within the BAP? And why is there an opposition to Jam Kamal Khan?
One can understand why the opposition wants to table a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister. It sees an opportunity and wants to bring the government down. But why is the BAP against its own Chief Minister?

The nature of party formation and party politics in Balochistan play an important role in keeping the Baloch politics in the provincial assembly weak and unstable. The Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), did not exist before 2018. It was formed on the eve of the 2018 elections. Despite being suspicious of political engineering by the Deep State, the party could not get a majority in the provincial assembly. It could form the government with support from the PTI. Jam Kamal Khan Alyani was made the chief minister of Balochistan; he did not contest as a Chief Minister candidate. Nor does he enjoy the support of a party and its cadres. His political base is weak – both within the party and outside it. Many would even argue, that the BAP’s political base in Balochistan is also weak.

An earlier note in this column mentioned the strength of Jam Kamal Khan Alyani. He comes from an influential family; however, he does not have the support base of a cadre-based political party. Other political parties from the province, for example, the Balochistan National Party (BNP), National Party (NP), and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), have a history political base and cadre support. Neither the Chief Minister nor the BAP has the above.

Finally, the Baloch legislative politics have remained unstable. The last chief minister also had to face the threat of no-confidence and had to resign. When compared to the other three provincial assemblies, the Baloch assembly has always been a divided house. None of the national parties could find their base in Balochistan. Also, none of the provincial parties could grow strong foundations cutting across ethnic and tribal divisions in Balochistan.

A section would even consider, the above was a part of a political design from Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

 

*Note: The note was first published in http://www.pakistanreader.org/

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