THE shambles that is the Balochistan government has taken yet another turn for the worse this week with Chief Minister Aslam Raisani under siege from rivals within his party, the speaker of the Balochistan Assembly and the Supreme Court. Citing an Oct 12 Supreme Court interim order, Speaker Aslam Bhootani has turned to the governor for constitutional advice on whether Mr Raisani’s government is still intact and if a session of the Balochistan Assembly can be convened as demanded by the chief minister. Meanwhile, the Balochistan chapter of the PPP has suspended the membership of Mr Raisani on grounds of various allegations of corruption and incompetence against the chief minister. But so far the central command of the PPP has not weighed in on the matter. In the murky world of Balochistan politics all is rarely as it seems. Both the speaker and the PPP Balochistan leader, Sadiq Umrani, are believed to be upset with the chief minister for political reasons — supporting rivals, manoeuvring a caretaker set-up in place to favour Mr Raisani, etc — and that may have much more to do with the crises that now confront Mr Raisani. The chief minister is expected to survive his political challenges in the age-old fashion of Balochistan politics: wheeling and dealing and reassurances given to wary and suspicious allies.
Yet, the central problem remains: the Balochistan government is dysfunctional and Balochistan continues to suffer all manner of problems. Added to this is the searing scrutiny of the Supreme Court which, while by and large beneficial to putting Balochistan back on the national agenda, has introduced an unpredictable element in the provincial equation. If there is any part of the country that desperately needs fresh elections and a new political leadership, it is Balochistan. But provincial elections are now synchronised with the federal elections and both are very much on the horizon. So an intervention for rapid elections in Balochistan at this late hour may actually create more problems than it could solve. Better then to focus on creating a fairer electoral environment. The caretaker set-up, the participation of all parties in the election and a polling machinery that better represents the will of the people — all are areas that need serious attention.
The pressure on Mr Raisani, then, could serve some useful purpose in perhaps forcing him and his government to make better decisions in the crucial months ahead. It may seem like a forlorn hope given the appalling record of Chief Minister Raisani & Co, but nothing concentrates the mind of a politician like a battle for survival.