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Balochistan PA’s status faces dilemma
 
 
 

QUETTA - Even after three weeks of the imposition of the governor’s rule in Balochistan, the status of the Balochistan Assembly is not clear as it is hard to say whether it is functional or not. A strange situation has emerged after imposition of the governor’s rule by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the backdrop of the worst law and order situation in the province. The Balochistan governor, on the requisition of the former provincial government, summoned the session and some members, including Speaker Syed Matiullah Agha, reached the assembly. The staff of the assembly’s secretariat seemed unprepared for the session owing to the governor’s rule. The members who reached the assembly pleaded that though the government had been dismissed, the assembly was still functional. However, a notification was issued from the governor’s secretariat on the same day, clarifying that the assembly was still functional and the members of the assembly could not only attend the session but also debate and approve resolutions. Some constitutional experts are of the view that the assembly is functional and the members can debate and move resolutions, but they cannot make any official legislation. Syed Matiullah Agha, after confirming that the assembly is functional, chaired the session which strongly condemned the imposition of the governor’s rule in the province.The members also adopted a resolution unanimously and demanded the federal government immediately withdraw its decision. They also passed a resolution, demanding formation of a judicial commission to probe the Jan 10 Quetta bombings that claimed more than 100 lives majority of whom were from Shia Hazara community. The session of the Balochistan Assembly was deemed as more important as it was held after the imposition of the governor’s rule in the province. However, legal experts say there is no constitutional importance of sessions of an assembly after imposition of governor’s rule in a province. Majority of the members of the provincial assembly also seemed less interested in the sessions, which was evident from the fact that only 13 to 15 members out of 65 turned up in most of the sessions while at least 17 members were required to run the business of the house. Interestingly, none of the members present in the house pointed out lack of quorum during these sessions. The Balochistan government was formed after the general elections 2008 and it enjoyed the support of 62 out of 65 members during its four years and nine months long period. There were only three members on the opposition benches. However, a few months back, Nawabzada Tariq Magsi, who is a brother of the Balochistan governor moved towards the opposition benches and, later, he was declared the opposition leader. Following differences between the government and former Speaker Muhammad Aslam Bhootani and his subsequent removal through a no-confidence motion, the government claimed to have the support of 60 members. But the presence of only 15 members in the assembly sessions has raised many questions. In order to review the imposition of the governor’s rule, a marathon meeting of coalition partners in former Balochistan government was held in Quetta. After the meeting, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-F Balochistan Amir and Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Senator Maulana Muhammad Sherani, flanked by the leaders of Balochistan National Party (Awami), addressed a press conference and announced a series of protests, including rallies, shutter down and wheel-jam strikes, in the province.JUI-F and BNP-Awami held protest demonstrations and shutter-down strike throughout the province to register their protest and anger against the governor’s rule and dismissal of their government. They contended that law and order situation was also not satisfactory in Karachi and other towns of the country, but imposition of the governor’s rule in Balochistan on the pretext of the deteriorating law and order was unjustifiable. Interestingly, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Asharaf who belongs to PPP announced the governor’s rule in Balochistan and dismissal of the government which was also led by PPP and enjoyed approval bof PPP Co-chairman and President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari. On the other hand, the deputy parliamentary leader of PPP in the Balochistan Assembly, Ali Madad Jattak, is strongly criticising imposition of the governor’s rule, but Balochistan PPP President Mir Sadiq Umari is not only supporting the governor’s rule openly but also observed a “day of salvation” along with his other PPP workers in the province.Following the imposition of the governor’s rule in Balochistan, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has become active in the province due to which some former ministers are strongly criticising it. Balochistan chapter of the NAB has started probe into alleged financial irregularities and recruitments against 16 former ministers after taking records into its custody. The NAB, in its two separate press releases, has said that probe into financial irregularities and recruitments against 16 ministers is in progress and that action will be taken against them after completion of the probe. The assembly members, during the sessions, strongly criticised NAB and termed it a conspiracy to blackmail them. They questioned where NAB was during the last four and a half years of their government. JUI-F leader Maulvi Sarwar Musakhel disclosed that Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi was also held by NAB in the Pervez Musharraf regime and got released allegedly by an Arab Sheikh who paid money for his release. It may be recalled that Governor Magsi was not only arrested in the Pervez Musharraf government but also his release became possible after a compromise. The members of the JUI-F and BNP-Awami alleged the NAB was being used to muster support of Balochistan National Party (Mengal) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party in the upcoming polls. Political observers say the steps of NAB are not commendable as it kept quiet during the last four and a half years though some political parties which had boycotted last elections raised voice against the corruption of the provincial ministers. Moreover, during the Musharraf regime, the NAB had also stopped taking action against those leaders who had joined PML-Q and had become part of the government.Let’s wait and see if NAB takes action against former ministers without discrimination or it only pressurises them not to protest against the governor’s rule. Observers say that for lack of action against corrupt politicians in former government, corruption has increased manifold in the province, which is evident from the fact that some members who came to attend the assembly sessions on rickshaws during initial days of the government have become millionaire.

 
 
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