QUETTA, March 18: Though Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi dissolved the provincial assembly on Monday, the JUI-F/BNP-A and their rival group, comprising members of other parties represented in the house, remained entangled in a tug of war over the choice for Leader of Opposition in the assembly.
As a result, no move has yet been made over the selection of a caretaker chief minister of the province.
Exercising powers vested in him under Article 112 (1) of the Constitution, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani sent an advice about dissolution of the assembly to the governor in the morning. After half an hour, Governor Magsi issued a notification in this regard.
Originally the advice was scheduled to be sent to the governor on Tuesday in line with an understanding reached among the four chief ministers to dissolve provincial assemblies on March 19 so that elections for national and provincial assemblies could be held on the same day.
However, in view of the situation that has developed in Balochistan after resignation of 26 ministers and advisers and their formation of a strong group in support of Mir Tariq Magsi, Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Mr Raisani sent the advice a day before the schedule.
According to the notification issued by the cabinet section of the Services and General Administration Department, provincial ministers and advisers had ceased to hold their offices after the assembly’s dissolution.
But Nawab Raisani will continue to work as chief minister till the nomination of a caretaker chief minister who will be selected by him and the Leader of Opposition through consultation.
However, no decision has been taken so far about the caretaker chief minister because of a lingering row.
Former speaker Aslam Bhootani had appointed Mir Tariq Magsi as opposition leader on Dec 18. But after removal of Mr Bhootani as speaker through a no-confidence motion, the new speaker, Syed Matiullah Agha, had cancelled the appointment.
This prompted Tariq Magsi to challenge the speaker’s decision in the Balochistan High Court. The court declared Mr Agha’s order null and void and reinstated Tariq Magsi as the opposition leader.
Later after the emergence of a group comprising MPAs of the PML-Q, the PPP and independent group in support of Tariq Magsi and resignation of 26 ministers and advisers to join opposition, 13 other ministers belonging to the JUI-F and Balochistan National Party-Awami also tendered resignations. Speaker Agha appointed Senior Minister Maulana Abdul Wasay as opposition leader late Sunday night.
The appointment of Maulana Wasay was challenged by Tariq Magsi through a petition in the high court. Its division bench headed by Chief Justice issued a stay order against the appointment of Maulana Wasay as opposition leader and declared Tariq Magsi the leader of opposition.
Earlier, a group of 25 MPAs, led by Tariq Magsi, went to the provincial assembly and submitted an application to its secretary for allotment of seats on opposition benches.
“The appointment of Maulana Wasay as the opposition leader is unconstitutional because he was working as senior minister when Speaker Agha issued the notification late at night,” PML-Q leader Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel said.
After the issuance of the notification by the Services and General Administration Department, 23 provincial ministers, including Maulana Wasay, ceased to hold their offices on March 18 at 4pm, he argued.
On the other hand, addressing a press conference in opposition leader’s chamber in the assembly, Maulana Wasay alleged that under a conspiracy efforts were being made in Governor House to impose an interim setup of their own choice on the province, vowing to foil the plot.He said under the 18th amendment it was the responsibility of the Leader of the House and the opposition leader to choose a caretaker chief minister through consultation.
He said in mid-January the JUI-F had sent a letter to the government for allotment of seats on opposition benches, but no action could be taken because governor’s rule was promulgated in the province on the same day.
Maulana Wasay claimed that since his party (JUI-F) had support of 23 MPAs, Speaker Agha had issued the notification about his appointment as the opposition leader.
He rejected the claims of the leaders of the rival group about their majority in the assembly and said the constitution did not allow PML-Q and PPP members to join opposition because parliamentary leaders of the parties were with the government.