PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and the high command of his party have decided to elect Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, President of the National Party (NP), as the Balochistan chief minister.
Dr. Baloch has been an MPA in the Balochistan Assembly thrice, and has also served as a senator for six years in Islamabad. He was a member of the cabinet in Nawab Akbar Bugti’s cabinet and served as provincial education minister.
Baloch’s name for the slot of chief minister has been proposed by Mehmood Achakzai, the chief of the Pukhtukhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP). “We have decided in principle to support Dr. Malik as the Chief Minister of Balochistan,” PkMAP Central Secretary Akram Shah told Dawn.com. He said Achakzai had made it clear before PML-N leader and former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif that PkMAP was backing Dr. Baloch as the chief executive of the province.
NP and PkMAP enjoy the support of 18 members in 51 general assembly seats. With the support of PML-N, which has 14 members, Dr. Malik can easily be elected as the leader of the house.
The decision is being considered a positive step towards normalising the situation in Balochistan, a province plagued by sectarianism, terrorism and an insurgency that’s been continuing for more than 12 years now.
The need of the hour for Balochistan is a non-controversial, unarmed and middle class Baloch leader to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people – and Dr. Baloch is considered to enjoy all these qualities.
The move to nominate Dr. Baloch as CM is also considered positive because hypothetically, the PML-N could even form the provincial government in Balochistan without the support of NP and PkMAP – since other evergreen politicians were ready to extend their support to the party.
Dr. Baloch will not be able to abridge the existing gulf between the Baloch people and Islamabad overnight. However, being a political worker, he understands the complexities and sensitivities of politics and insurgency in Balochistan. The NP chief can play the role of a firefighter to bring an end to unrest in the volatile province.
Dr.Baloch can also convince the ruling PML-N to take confidence-building measures to restore the lost confidence of the people of Balochistan. As promised by his party, the recovery of missing persons and ‘kill and dump’ operations must be stopped. Internally displaced Marri and Bugti tribesmen must be rehabilitated without wasting any time.
What is hoped of Dr. Baloch is that he is able to strengthen the middle class Baloch community and perhaps weaken the grip of strong tribal chieftains.