Tumult hits PML-N in Balochistan over ‘narrative’

Published November 8, 2020
QUETTA: Estranged PML-N leaders Abdul Qadir Baloch and Sanaullah Zehri talking to media on Saturday. — INP
QUETTA: Estranged PML-N leaders Abdul Qadir Baloch and Sanaullah Zehri talking to media on Saturday. — INP

• Qadir resigns from party, Sanaullah quits CEC
• PML-N says their departure won’t dent party
• PPP invites the two leaders to join its ranks

QUETTA: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Saturday suffered a major setback in Balochistan when its provincial chapter president retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch formally resigned from the party and former chief minister Sanaullah Zehri announced quitting the PML-N’s central executive committee.

Their parting came after differences emerged within the PML-N over what they called their leader’s narrative against the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chiefs and for betraying the Baloch people who supported him.

They made their decisions public on the lawns of Quetta Metropolitan Corporation where a large number of councillors and party workers had gathered.

While Mr Zehri decided to retain his provincial assembly seat that he had won in the 2018 general elections from Khuzdar (PB-38) on the PML-N ticket, Lt Gen Qadir said he would finalise his plan for future after consulting supporters and colleagues.

“I will not resign from my provincial assembly seat and will continue representing the people of my constituency who have elected me as chief of Jhalawan,” Mr Zehri announced.

“From today we will oppose Nawaz Sharif up to any extent and would expose his real face to the people of Balochistan at every house and corner,” he said.

However, the PML-N general secretary Ahsan Iqbal as well as provincial chapter general secretary Jamal Shah Kakar said that the departure of the two men would not affect the party’s organisational structure in Balochistan.

Balochistan PML-N general secretary Jamal Shah Kakar said: “The resignation of General Qadir and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri was painful, but with their resignation, the party will not finish in the province. The PML-N is very much intact and would flourish in the province, as out of 33 districts only two district presidents of PML-N attended the meeting convened by General Qadir.”

Mr Kakar claimed that all other office-bearers were with the party and standing with the narrative of ex-premier Sharif.

Retired Lt Gen Qadir Baloch, who had served as governor of Balochistan and headed the army’s Southern Command, while speaking at the workers’ meeting criticised the PML-N supreme leader and declared that he could not support the anti-army narrative of Mr Sharif, who always ignored Balochistan while taking any decision at the party and government level.

“I cannot accept Nawaz Sharif’s narrative through which he tried to create mutiny in the army against the military leadership. I cannot tolerate the insult of my army chief,” he announced, adding that whatever status and honour he had gained was just because of the Army.

He said he could not support those who were speaking against the military leadership, as the peace prevailing in the province was due to the armed forced.

He complained that the PML-N central leadership had ignored their majority in Balochistan in 2013 elections and handed over the chief ministership to the National Party, despite the fact that PML-N had won 22 seats in the Balochistan Assembly. He said he and Mr Zehri had joined the PML-N in 2010 when nobody was willing to take a ticket of the party. He said he was further disappointed when the party’s central leadership refused to invite Mr Zehri on the stage during the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s public meeting in Quetta on Oct 25. He had given blood to the party as his son, brother and others were martyred during the election campaign, he added.

While referring to the attitude of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, Mr Baloch said the party had arranged women’s convection during her Quetta visit but she instead of appreciating women workers left the venue without meeting them. “It is a great insult to our women workers, which had hurt him seriously.

“Maryam Nawaz is trying to reach the status of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, but she cannot,” Mr Baloch said.

While speaking at the party workers meeting, Mr Zehri criticised Mr Sharif and accused him of betraying all those who stood by him in the testing times.

He said he had “broken the shackles” and he and his followers would expose the “real face of Nawaz Sharif” to the people of Balochistan. “Balochistan belongs to us and we will prove it. He mocked Mr Sharif for conveniently striking deals to leave the country and get himself out of difficult situations. At the same time, he heaped praise on the PPP founder Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for staying put in the face of imminent death but not compromising on his stand.

“He [Bhutto] refused to bow down or file a mercy petition to dictator Gen Ziaul Haq and preferred to accept death,” Mr Zehri said while calling it the “true character of a real leader”.

“A deserter doesn’t deserve to be called a leader,” he said while referring to Mr Sharif who has been declared “proclaimed offender” by courts after his refusal to return to Pakistan and serve out the seven-year sentence awarded to him in a corruption case. “He should return to Pakistan,” Mr Zehri added.

Meanwhile, the PPP Balochistan chapter president Ali Madad Jattak told journalists that the Baloch leaders had been invited to join his party so that the anti-government campaign of the PDM would not be harmed with their quitting the PML-N.

Mr Zehri, retired Lt Gen Baloch and 20 former lawmakers had been invited to join the PPP, he said, adding that the assembly dignitaries and other ticket holders by joining the PPP would fight against the incompetent rulers from this platform for the progress and prosperity of the people of Balochistan.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2020

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