ON Sunday, Jam Kamal Khan Alyani’s name was added to the long list of chief ministers of Balochistan who couldn’t complete their full term in the top provincial office since the 1970s. After two months of protests by the opposition both in the provincial assembly and on the roads, resignations of cabinet members, interventions by federal ministers and his resolve to fight the demands for his resignation to the last, despite having read the writing on the wall, Mr Alyani finally caved in to the pressure being exerted from all sides. He was reportedly convinced by senior leaders of his own party and allies to take the ‘honourable’ route and exit from office a day before the vote on the no-trust motion tabled by some of the disgruntled treasury members and largely supported by the opposition.

If anything, the revolt against the Jam of Lasbela is just the start of a new crisis and not the end of it. It may also see the Balochistan Awami Party start to unravel in the near future over power-sharing issues. The BAP, created by the establishment to dislodge the coalition led by the PML-N to keep it from winning a majority in the 2018 Senate elections, comprises a hodgepodge of politicians mainly from the PML-N and PML-Q, who have little in common other than their strong desire to stay on the right side of the powers that be. At best, it remains a patchwork of a political party — a tool for its creators to use occasionally to put ‘uncooperative politicians’ in their place as in the case of Mr Alyani. His exit from the scene is being billed by his opponents as the end to the ‘political crisis’ in Balochistan that has been rocked by years of militancy, both nationalist and religiously inspired. But is it? History shows that what happens in Balochistan doesn’t stay in that province for very long. Sooner or later, it may spread to the rest of the country since political change in the province is often taken as the first indication that the powers that be may be moving against central governments. The examples of the PPP strong-armed to sack its chief minister in the province and the formation of the BAP just before elections in 2013 and 2018 are two examples. We will have to wait and see whether Mr Alyani’s resignation too will usher in change in the rest of the country.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021

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