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Photo shows a view of the Balochistan Assembly in session. — File photo

Raisani signs dissolution advice: Ministers’ resignation adds twist to Balochistan tangle

QUETTA, March 17: The constitutional crisis in Balochistan deepened after resignations of 21 ministers belonging to a group led by leader of opposition in the provincial assembly Mir Tariq Magsi were accepted by the governor on Sunday. Later, 13 ministers belonging to the JUI-F and BNP-Awami also submitted their resignations to the governor.

The opposition group claimed that Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani had lost majority in the assembly but his supporters disagreed.

The ministers whose resignations have been accepted include Sardar Masood Luni, Mir Habibur Rehman Mohammad Hasni, Babu Rahim Mengal, Mir Amanullah Notizai, Mir Hamal Kalmati, Ms Shama Perveen Magsi, Engineer Basnat Lal Gushan, Ruqayya Saeed Hashmi and Ms Sobia Kiran of the PML-Q, Mir Sadiq Ali Umrani, Asfandyar Kakar, Babu Amin, Jan Ali Changezi, Nasir Jamali and Agha Irfan of the PPP and Mir Zahoor Buladi and Sardar Aslam Bizenjo (independents).

Opposition leader Tariq Magsi said Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi had also accepted the resignations of another three ministers sent through fax.

Mir Tariq Magsi, Shoaib Nosherwani, Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, former speaker Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, Mir Tariq Masoori Bugti and former senator Saeed Ahmed Hashmi accompanied the ministers who held a meeting with the governor in the evening and handed over their resignations to him.

However, the situation was not clear about the convening of an assembly session on Monday as no official notification was issued by the assembly secretariat or the Governor’s House till late in the night. In a late-night development, Speaker Matiullah Agha issued a notification appointing senior minister Maulana Abdul Wasey of the JUI-F as leader of opposition.

Mir Tariq Magsi was appointed leader of opposition on Dec 18 last year by then speaker Aslam Bhootani. But Speaker Matiullah Agha de-notified the appointment which was challenged by Tariq Magsi in the Balochistan High Court. The court nullified the speaker’s decision and restored Tariq Magsi.

Tariq Magsi claimed that he enjoyed the support of over 35 legislators and urged the governor to ask the chief minister to show his majority in the house.

A meeting of the provincial cabinet scheduled for Sunday could not be held, despite the return of Chief Minister Raisani to Quetta from Islamabad. “The meeting was cancelled by the chief minister,” official sources said but did not give any reason.

Chief Minister Raisani had sent a written advice to the governor seeking immediate removal of 13 ministers belonging to the JUI-F and BNP-Awami from his cabinet. The governor confirmed that he had received Mr Raisani’s advice as well as resignations of the ministers. “Yes, I have received the resignations of 13 ministers belonging to the JUI-F and BNP-Awami and at the same time the chief minister also sent a written advice for the removal these ministers,” Governor Magsi told Dawn.

He said he had written a letter to the chief minister asking him whether he should accept their resignations or issue an order for their removal.

Minister Mir Saleem Khosa of the PML-Q who had attended the opposition group’s meeting on Saturday was not among the ministers who submitted their resignations to the governor.

Sardar Aslam Bizenjo said the opposition group enjoyed the support of over 40 legislators in a house of 65. He said Chief Minister Raisani had lost the trust of majority members and he should resign.

“How could Nawab Raisani hold consultations with the leader of opposition for a caretaker chief minister when he has lost majority in the house,” said Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, provincial president of the PML-Q.

He said Nawab Raisani had invited only JUI-F and BNP-Awami ministers to Islamabad for talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and ignored other ministers who had supported his government for almost five years.

“It was our insult,” Mr Mandokhel said, adding that after this attitude the group had decided to support Tariq Magsi and resign from the cabinet.

Mr Magsi said the governor should ask Nawab Raisani to take a fresh vote of confidence because he lacked majority in the house.

“I am enjoying support of more than 35 legislators,” he said, adding that now it was a game of numbers. “We will show our majority in the house,” he said. He said PML-N’s Sardar Sanaullah Zehri had also announced his support for the opposition group to block the way of imposing an interim government after dissolution of the Balochistan Assembly.

Sardar Zehri had announced that five ministers of his party would quit the Raisani-led collation government.

Meanwhile, JUI-F, BNP-Awami and ANP leaders held a meeting which continued till late in the night to work out a plan of action.

Chief Minister Raisani was still optimistic about resolving the issue. Talking to reporters, he said he would send an advice to the governor on Tuesday for dissolution of the assembly. “I will do everything with consensus and mutual understanding,” he said. Deputy parliamentary leader of the PPP in the assembly Ali Madad Jattak, who is supporting Mr Raisani, said the PPP ministers who had supported the leader of opposition would face disciplinary action for violating the party discipline.

But Mir Sadiq Ali Umrani, provincial president of the PPP, said most party members were with him and joining the opposition group was a majority decision.