Another Jam back on the throne in Naya Balochistan

Updated August 19, 2018

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QUETTA: Balochistan’s newly-elected Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani shakes hands with former CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri on Saturday.—APP
QUETTA: Balochistan’s newly-elected Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani shakes hands with former CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri on Saturday.—APP

THE ruling family of the former Lasbela state are called “Alyani”, but they are also known by their title, “Jam”. The last ruler of the state was Jam Ghulam Qadir Khan Alyani, who was the first among the four princely state rulers who chose to join Pakistan at the time of independence from Great Britain in 1947. The Jam family has since then been considered to have a close working relationship with the country’s powerful establishment.

Jam Qadir Khan twice became chief minister of Balochistan — in 1973 and in 1985. During his stints, he became popular as a staunch critic of the National Awami Party.

The Jam family though is not all about politics and power. They also have an appreciation of the finer things in life — like music. Jam Mohammad Yousaf Alyani, son of Jam Qadir Khan, was a connoisseur of classical music, and was reported to be quite a ghazal singer himself, with videos of him performing still available online. In 2002, he followed in his father’s footsteps to be elected as chief minister of Balochistan.

Now, ‘Naya Pakistan’s Naya Balochistan’ has another Alyani as chief minister, the bearded Jam Kamal Khan Alyani. Born on Jan 1, 1973, he is the 13th Jam of Lasbela — where he served twice as mayor. Jam Kamal had also been elected to the National Assembly in 2013 and served as minister of state for petroleum and natural resources in the cabinets of both Nawaz Sharif, and his replacement Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, but later ended his association with the Sharifs, joining the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) as its president.

Unlike other sardars and nawabs in the province, Jam Kamal is considered a lenient, softer man. He is married to an Urdu-speaking woman from Karachi, where he spends most of his time with his family.

His calm and modestly appealing persona aside, his family is not remembered for good governance. Both his father and grandfather have remained Balochistan’s chief ministers, but little has improved in the Lasbela district. The underdeveloped area has several problems, chief among them is the fact that many educational institutes are not functional.

Jam Kamal is what you would call a classic example of an ‘electable,’ and he flies in whichever direction the wind blows. Ever since the resignation of the former chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, the political dynamics of the province have taken turns that few could have imagined. As the pieces moved on the chessboard in the province, the game looked much grander than what all had imagined. The architects of what transpired in December last year had bigger plans in mind, which seem to have come to fruition. The victory for the invisible hand is the election of Jam Kamal as the chief minister.

Undoubtedly though, it has not been an easy ride for Jam Kamal as he is still struggling to unify his party leaders, who remain in conflict with each other. As Quetta-based analysts put it, everyone in the BAP is on their own — looking for their self-interests and nothing else. That is why, it may not be too much of a stretch to imagine that Jam Kamal will have a difficult time in office.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018