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Size and efficiency: Balochistan cabinet

August 27, 2013

IT has already been demonstrated many times that what suits one province may be a cause of great discomfort to another. Balochistan, in particular, has found it extremely difficult to be bound by the rules that are followed elsewhere in the country. The problems faced by Dr Abdul Malik’s government in forming a cabinet are reflective of the peculiar realities in the province. This may seem to be a case where all claimants are talking sense yet are unable to resolve the issue at hand. The members of the PML-N, which is the single-largest party in the Balochistan Assembly, are pressing for large representation in the cabinet after their party under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif allowed the nationalist groups a leading role in the provincial government. Just as the nationalist politicians and their supporters in the province and outside of it appear to be asking the PML-N to forego a little more, they would know there is a limit to what a leading party can concede. A majority party that concedes too much is seen to risk losing public support.

A special provision that allows Balochistan to have a larger cabinet for now is one of the options that may soon be tried. However, this could set a dangerous precedent in which political expediency overtakes the necessity of a more efficient cabinet. In the past, the province has had cabinets large enough to accommodate almost all the Assembly members. That drew a lot of flak because it compromised efficiency and promoted corruption. A leaner cabinet, stocked with politicians qualified to head ministries, may be less susceptible to criticism. A little more political accommodation is required to settle the issue and allow the government to get on with its job.