QUETTA: In another blow to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, six Pakistan Muslim League-N lawmakers, who remained loyal to his party’s chief minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri throughout the political crisis in Balochistan, have decided to vote for Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, the opposition-treasury consensus candidate, in the election of the new leader of the house scheduled to be held on Saturday (today).
On Friday, Mr Bizenjo, a PML-Q MPA from Awaran, submitted five nomination papers each proposed and seconded by members of the allied parties.
While the National Party (NP) has decided to stay neutral in the election, two members of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) have also filed their nomination papers in what the party described as the move to strengthen democracy.
Although Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar, a central leader of the PML-N, had announced that his party along with the NP and PkMAP would field a joint candidate for CM, the six PML-N lawmakers met Mr Bizenjo and former home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, who led the dissidents’ group against Mr Zehri, on Friday and made it clear that they would not oppose Mr Bizenjo and cast their vote in his favour.
Balochistan Assembly to elect new chief minister today; PkMAP is in the race, but NP to abstain from polling
The six PML-N lawmakers are Sardar Dur Muhammad Nasar, Izhar Hussain Khosa, Muhammad Khan Lehri, Samina Khan, Anita Irfan and Kishwar Jattak.
With their decision, the number of PML-N lawmakers supporting Mr Bizenjo has reached 19 against the total strength of 21. The remaining two lawmakers are Speaker Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani and former CM Zehri.
In the 65-strong provincial assembly, the PML-Q has five members; Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) eight; Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) two; Awami National Party, Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen and BNP-Awami one each. There is also one independent lawmaker in the assembly.
The PkMAP having 14 members and the number of lawmakers belonging to the NP is 11. However, an incarcerated NP lawmaker, Mir Khalid Langove, is said to be supporting Mr Bizenjo as he had also supported the no-trust motion against former CM Zehri.
Also on Friday, senior parliamentarians Sardar Saleh Bhootani, Jan Muhammad Jamali, Sarfaraz Bugti, Zafarullah Zehri, Amanullah Notezai, Aamir Rind and Ghulam Dastagir Badini held talks with PkMAP leadership and sought their support for Mr Bizenjo.
However, PkMAP leaders told them that their party was going to submit nomination papers for the election of the new chief minister.
“We want democratic process should continue and get more strength,” PkMAP leaders told the senior parliamentarians during the meeting at their assembly chamber.
PkMAP parliamentary party leader in the Balochistan Assembly Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal and Syed Liaquat Agha submitted their nomination papers.
The PML-N, PML-Q and their allies also approached the NP leadership and sought its support for Mr Bizenjo.
A delegation led by Mr Bizenjo went to the residence of Sardar Aslam Bizenjo and met Dr Malik Baloch and other NP leaders. However, the NP informed them that it had decided not to take part in the election process.
“The National Party will not support any candidate in the assembly for the election of the new leader of the house,” Mr Bugti told Dawn.
He added that their candidate would win the election with a big margin since the combined opposition was also supporting him.
According to the Balochistan Assembly Speaker, three candidates — Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal and Syed Liaquat Agha of PkMAP — have filed their nomination papers for the election of the new leader of the house.
Five papers were filed for Mr Bizenjo. He was proposed by Mr Jamali, Sardar Bhootani, Dr Ruquyia Saeed Hashmi, Mr Zehri and Mr Badini, and seconded by Mr Bugti, Mr Notezai, Prince Ahmed Ali, Mir Aamir Khan Rind and Molvi Maazullah.
Sardar Mustafa Tareen and Abdul Majeed Achakzai have proposed and seconded the nomination paper for Mr Ziaratwal.
Mr Agha’s candidature was proposed by Obaidullah Babit and seconded by William Barkat.
The speaker scrutinised the papers and announced all of them valid. The candidates can withdraw their nominations till 10am on Saturday before voting.