MURREE, June 2: Incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif demonstrated remarkable political maturity to end the political deadlock over formation of government in Balochistan on Sunday by giving up the claim of his party to head the ruling coalition in the province and nominated Dr Abdul Malik, the president of National Party, for the post of chief minister.
The announcement to this effect was made by Mr Sharif after hours-long meeting with Baloch leaders during which he succeeded in persuading the provincial leaders of his party, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and Changez Marri, to forgo their claim to the post for the sake of peace and progress of Balochistan.
The Baloch leaders who attended the meeting in the hill station of Murree included the chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmood Khan Achakzai and National Party leader Hasil Bizenjo, besides Sardar Zehri and Changez Marri. PML-N leaders Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ishaq Dar, Pervez Rashid and Khawaja Mohammad Asif also attended the meeting.
Mr Sharif told journalists that despite having emerged as the single largest group in the Balochistan Assembly his party had decided to offer the post of chief minister to NP and all other Baloch leaders had accepted it in the spirit that it was “a fight for values and not for power”. He also said that all the leaders had agreed that the next governor of the province would be from the PkMAP.
The meeting was delayed by about three hours because of late arrival of Shahbaz Sharif and the two PML-N leaders from Balochistan.
Sources in the PML-N said that at the meeting Sardar Zehri initially spoke about his party’s right to the office of the chief minister but did not argue when Mr Sharif, who had perhaps made up his mind, expressed his willingness to sacrifice the post in the larger interest of the people of Balochistan. He said his party would have no objection if genuine Baloch leaders who also had rendered great sacrifices for the country and for the cause of democracy, got the power.
Sardar Zehri, who lost a son and a brother in a terrorist attack during the election campaign, the sources said, had also apprised the participants of the meeting about his efforts he had made for his party’s success in the May 11 elections. The sources said the PML-N leaders acknowledged Sardar Zehri’s efforts to persuade independents to join the party and make it the single largest group in the provincial assembly with 17 members.
The PkMAP with 14 MPAs and the NP with 10 members have emerged as the second and third largest parties in the 65-member Balochistan Assembly. The PkMAP, despite having larger number of MPAs-elect than the NP, had already announced that the party was not interested in the chief minister’s office and the Pakhtuns of Balochistan would welcome any Baloch leader to the post.
The sources said the offices of the speaker and deputy speaker would go to the PML-N and there was a strong possibility that Sardar Zehri and Changez Marri would be nominated for the two offices.
Mr Sharif told newsmen that the forces which had struggled against dictatorship and corruption had come together for the sake of peace and tranquility in the province. He said he would ensure transparent and clean governance in the province. There will be no corruption and past mistakes will not be repeated.
The PML-N chief praised Sardar Zehri for bowing before the party’s decision for the betterment and welfare of the people of Balochistan.
Speaking on the occasion, PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai said the Baloch people had always been critical of the role of Punjab in national politics, but today they were with the democratically-elected leadership of Punjab in the best interest of the country and the province.
Hasil Bizenjo of the NP praised Mr Sharif for his sagacity and his decision to offer the office of the chief minister to a smaller party despite having stronger presence in the assembly. He said they were committed to ending target killings, restoring peace and eliminating corruption.
He was of the view that the people of Balochistan and the nation as a whole would be able to benefit from natural resources with peace and economic prosperity in the province.
Mr Sharif evaded a question about the trial of former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf under Article 6. A reporter reminded Mr Sharif that it was at the same place where he stood that former military ruler Gen Musharraf was reported to have ordered action against Nawab Akbar Bugti and asked him if he would hold him accountable under Article 6. Mr Sharif said he had also been imprisoned at the same place, but was kept in the servants’ quarters.
When his attention was drawn to allegations leveled by nationalist leaders about intelligence agencies running a parallel government by in the province, Mr Sharif said the agencies were under the democratically-elected government and they must follow its guidelines and policy.