Democrat for life
by Adnan Rasool
In 2013, the National Party came to power in Balochistan with the help of the PML-N, thrusting its leadership into national focus. Hasil Bizenjo became its president in 2014.
Bizenjo is a revered figure in Pakistani politics for his unwavering democratic stance. But since 2013, his party’s power has dwindled as new challengers have popped up.
The recently formed Balochistan Awami Party poses the biggest challenge to NP in the province. And with the current political situation in Balochistan, it is safe to assume that Bizenjo’s party will be marginalised and further limited to a few seats provincially and, at best, a single seat nationally.
As is the case in Pakistan, progressive parties with a centrist agenda have taken a beating in the last two election cycles. The ANP and the PPP have also been snubbed by voters for more conservative parties.
The limited space they did have before the 2013 elections has been further limited with new parties that seem to be leading to a hung parliament in 2018.
In such circumstances, even political giants like Hasil Bizenjo are resigned to play smaller roles.
A strong and consistent advocate of rights of the Baloch, Bizenjo is a vocal opponent of armed resistance and has repeatedly said that use of force by Baloch militants is not acceptable. He says militancy has not served the interest of Balochistan and its people. He also hopes that Baloch militants will renounce militancy and enter mainstream politics.
The National Party leader however says that the state has ignored the Baloch for long and urges that peaceful means be used to resolve the province’s issues.
Bizenjo is a clear opponent of militancy but also says that successive governments have made “huge blunders” in Balochistan by adopting hardline positions that have subsequently led to various crises. He also believes that the centre should allow Balochistan a fair share from the province’s own resources.
The National Party chief has said that“international conspiracies” have been afoot in Balochistan in recent years and “external forces” have been involved in destroying peace in the province.
“We will not allow anyone to implement his nefarious designs on the land of Balochistan,” Bizenjo told a meeting of NP’s central executive committee.
Bizenjo stresses for a speedy exit and repatriation of Afghan refugees, saying there is now peace in Afghanistan and its nationals should now return and help rebuild their country.
The NP leader took a firm position on the issue close to the census exercise, saying in late 2016 that it should be postponed till all Afghan refugees have returned to their country.
Bizenjo has remained a consistent ally of PML-N at the centre as well as in Balochistan since it struck a coalition deal with the party after the 2013 polls. Addressing PML-N's defeat in the Senate election earlier this year, the NP leader said it had been proven that hegemonic and undemocratic forces were more supreme in Pakistan than Parliament.
NP under Bizenjo’s leadership has also called for effective devolution of powers to provinces.
Unveiling his party’s election manifesto at a press conference in June this year, Bizenjo said his party would continue its struggle for financial and political empowerment of all federating units and devolution of power to the union council level.
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