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Unyielding Zehri tests PML-N’s skills in Balochistan

Updated May 22, 2013
Sanaullah Zehri.  — File Photo.
Sanaullah Zehri. — File Photo.

LAHORE: The PML-N is in a fix over the government formation in Balochistan as its provincial chief, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, has refused to quit the race for the office of chief minister.

Mr Zehri enjoys the confidence of the party’s parliamentary group, which has already nominated him as its leader in the Balochistan Assembly.

But the PML-N’s likely allies in the province have refused to accept him as chief minister because he had been part of the cabinet led by Aslam Raisani that, according to them, set new records of misappropriation of state funds.

The PML-N is the largest party in the house with 13 seats — it won nine seats and four independents have so far joined it.

It is seeking cooperation from the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (10 seats) and National Party (seven) to form a coalition government.

According to PML-N leaders, the party’s chief Nawaz Sharif is in favour of nominating Jangez Khan Marri as chief minister and has not yet given audience to Mr Zehri. But the latter is determined to bag the slot on the basis of his support within the parliamentary party.

Mr Zehri could only hold a one-to-one meeting with Shahbaz Sharif.

To make matters worse for Mr Sharif, the PKMAP and the NP have been reluctant to sit with the JUI-F.

Sources quoted PKMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai as saying his party’s legislators could not sit with the JUI-F as they had defeated them in the elections. “Forming a coalition with the JUI-F would mean supporting our rivals who had been in power since 2002,” he is reported to have told the mediators.

The sources said that even if Mr Marri was made to withdraw in favour of Mr Zehri, the coalition was not likely to last long because of the latter’s differences with the leaders of the PKMAP and NP.

Federal cabinet

Mr Sharif is also under pressure on the composition of the federal cabinet he is going to form after taking charge as prime minister for the third time.

Members of the Shirazi and Jatoi families of Sindh who have joined the PML-N after winning the polls are reported to have been taken aback by an offer made by Mr Sharif to the PPP and the MQM to form their government in Sindh. They fear that it would put them at the mercy of the provincial government and the only way for them to escape likely victimisation at the hands of the PPP-led administration would be to get a federal security cover through representation in the cabinet at the centre.