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QUETTA: In a baffling turn of events, Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, who managed to become a member of the Balochistan Assembly after bagging only 544 votes in the 2013 general elections, was on Thursday nominated as candidate for the post of Balochistan chief minister by the group comprising dissidents of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and other lawmakers, with the support of the opposition members who had moved the no-confidence motion against Nawab Sanaullah Zehri.

The announcement was made by two former chief ministers of the province, Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali and Sardar Muhammad Saleh Bhootani, at a press conference.

Mr Bizenjo, former home minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Mir Sarfaraz Chakar Domki, Prince Ahmed Ali, MNA Usman Badini of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F), and other lawmakers were present on the occasion.

“We have chosen Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo [to be the] leader of the house with the consensus of all members of our group after consultation with the opposition parties,” Mr Jamali said, adding that the candidate’s nomination papers would be submitted to the election officials on Friday.

PML-N senator says his party and allies will field their own candidate

“I and Sardar Bhootani will be the proposer and seconder of Mr Bizenjo,” he said.

Mr Jamali added that if somebody from the other side proceeded to file nomination papers for the post, his group was more than ready for a contest.

Former minister Sarfaraz Bugti claimed that his group, which had nominated Mr Bizenjo for the top slot, enjoyed the support of over 40 members of the assembly. “Some MPAs of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party [PkMAP] and National Party [NP] have also promised to support us but we cannot name them at the moment,” he remarked.

This seemed to be a far cry from the situation about four and half years ago, when the general elections were held. In those elections Mr Bizenjo managed to become an MPA on the back of fewer than 550 votes that he managed to poll.

According to analysts, canvassing and polling in his constituency — PB-41 (Awaran) — was badly affected by the poor law and order situation back then. The turnout was recorded at only 1.18 per cent, because just 683 votes were polled in all.

Besides Mr Bizenjo, there were only two candidates whose vote tallies were in double digits — Hayder Ali of the NP, who got 95 votes, and Hafiz Abdul Khaliq Bizenjo of the JUI-F, who got 18. It’s believed that Mr Bizenjo’s tally was the lowest number of votes polled by a successful candidate across the country in the elections.

PML-N announcement

Senator Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar, the senior vice president of the PML-N, announced on Thursday that his party, PkMAP and NP would nominate a joint candidate for the top slot.

He made the announcement after a meeting attended by leaders and MPAs from his party, the PkMAP and NP. “We will bring a consensus candidate to contest the election for the post of chief minister,” he said, adding that the three-party alliance would not hold talks with the PML-N dissidents at any cost.

Sarfaraz Bugti, meanwhile, said he would never speak in public against former chief minister Sanaullah Zehri. He said he and his colleagues, who had filed a no-confidence motion against Mr Zehri, had only exercised their democratic right.

Speaking at a reception at a hockey stadium, he said he had respect for the former chief minister and would not speak in public about the latter’s failures and shortcomings.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2018