QUETTA: The date set by the Balochistan coalition partners for a new chief minister to take over for the second half of the current assembly’s tenure passed quietly on Friday.
The accord between the National Party, PML-N and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party was struck in Murree in the presence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and leaders of the two other parties before the formation of the provincial government.
Under the ‘Murree accord’, Dec 4 this year was supposed to be the last day of Dr Malik Baloch as Chief Minister, following which a PML-N nominee would take over for the next two-and-a-half years.
Also read: Balochistan to get new CM in Dec: Bizenjo
The PML-N’s parliamentary leader in Balochistan Assembly and likely candidate for the post of chief minister under the accord, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, and his supporters are waiting for the prime minister’s return from London for a decision regarding implementation of the deal.
“We are waiting for return of Prime Minister Sharif from abroad for implementation of the Murree accord,” a Balochistan PML-N leader told Dawn.
He said a PML-N parliamentary delegation, led by Sardar Zehri, was expected to meet the prime minister in Islamabad on Monday.
The PML-N leaders were confident that the accord would be implemented because senior leaders of the three parties had signed it. “A decision is expected by Dec 9 as the two-and-a-half-year term of Chief Minister Dr Malik Baloch will end that day,” PML-N sources said.
However, political circles here were of the view that continued silence of the prime minister was creating uncertainty. “The change of government in Balochistan is in the doldrums because Prime Minister Sharif has kept mum over the issue,” a leader said.
Mr Sharif may not take any decision in haste regarding a change of guard in the province and may delay the implementation of the Murree accord to allow consultation with his party’s leaders and aides.
“The change of government in Balochistan will be a difficult decision for the prime minister in these circumstances when the situation in the province is improving after an understanding between civil leadership and the military,” an analyst said.
He claimed that even some top PML-N leaders and federal ministers were not in favour of a change in the provincial set-up for the time being.
The sources claimed that some other PML-N leaders were also showing interest in the top slot of the province. “I am not a candidate for the chief minister’s post, but will accept the decision of the party’s leadership,” Nawab Jangez Khan Marri told reporters recently.
However, Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, a former chief minister and speaker of the provincial assembly, said the change would be in the interest of the province. But he also said that it was the right of the provincial parliamentary party of the PML-N to take a decision.
“Despite passage of the 18th Amendment we still expect Islamabad to take our decisions,” he said, adding that parliamentarians of the PML-N from the province had not been consulted while signing the agreement in Murree. Now once again the provincial parliamentary party was being ignored and the matter had been referred to the central leadership, he complained.
Dr Baloch and his National Party have already announced that they will hand over the government to the PML-N’s nominee the day Nawaz Sharif took a decision.
The situation is likely to become clear next week.
Our Staff Reporter in Islamabad adds: Talking to Dawn, Punjab NP President retired Commander Ayub Malik said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was quite satisfied with the manner Chief Minister Baloch was running the government in the province, where separatists had been waging a movement against the state.
“The prime minister has acknowledged the services of Dr Abdul Malik Baloch,” he said.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid refused to comment on the issue.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2015