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Nawaz Sharif held meeting regarding Balochistan issue

19 January, 2018

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has sought to solve the riddle of losing its provincial government in Balochistan in a series of meetings convened by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

On Thursday Mr Sharif again held a meeting with the PML-N leadership and the leaders of two Balochistan-based allied parties at his Jati Umra residence, discussing the ouster of Nawab Sanaullah Zehri-led government in a manner over which all participants expressed “strong concern”.

The meeting also discussed the joint opposition’s Lahore rally held on Wednesday. To counter the opposition’s protest movement on the issue of the Model Town killings, it finalised a strategy to expedite the PML-N’s mass contact campaign.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Azad Kashmir premier Raja Farooq Haider, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mehmood Achakzai, National Party (NP) leader Hasil Bizenjo, former chief minister of Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, senior PML-N leaders from the province Sardar Yaqub Nasir and Abdul Qadir Baloch, some MPAs from the province who are still with the PML-N, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Maryam Nawaz, federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Awais Leghari, Saad Rafique and Marrium Aurangzeb, adviser to the PM Miftah Ismail and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal told Dawn that no proposal to place Dr Tahirul Qadri’s name on the ECL had been discussed in the meeting. “It was a one-point agenda meeting on the political situation prevailing in Balochistan. Dr Qadri issue was not discussed,” he said.

Asked if there was any proposal to place the name of Dr Qadri on the ECL in the coming days, the minister said: “No such proposal is being considered at the moment.”

About the PML-N mass contact campaign, Mr Iqbal said: “This is an ongoing thing.”

A PML-N leader privy to the meeting told Dawn that a detailed discussion was held about factors leading to ouster of the Nawab Zehri-led government.

He said: “Participants from Balochistan told the meeting that they had not been consulted on the decision to move a no-confidence motion against Mr Zehri. None of the members of the PML-N rebel group or other parties supporting the no-trust motion had ever raised any major issue before the Nawab Zehri-led government. Hence, there was no justification for the no-trust motion.”

The PML-N leader said it was not clear “from where” the nomination of PML-Q MPA Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo for the office of chief minister was made.

“The participants agreed that the election of Mr Bizenjo, who had secured a few hundred votes in the 2013 general elections, as chief minister is the negation of the democratic process. They said that installing a puppet chief minister in a sensitive province is a matter of grave concern. This move has usurped the rights of the people of Balochistan and amounts to insult the people’s right to rule.”

The leaders of the PML-N, PkMAP and NP resolved to continue their struggle to restore the respect of the ballot and pledged to foil “conspiracies” behind such a change, the PML-N leader said.

In the wake of Mr Zehri’s resignation, the PML-N may lose a few Senate seats from Balochistan if the 16-member PML-N rebel group in the Provincial Assembly remains at odds with the party leadership till Senate elections in March.

“None of the participants proposed initiation of any disciplinary action against the rebel group members knowing that Mr Sharif is not in favour of this,” another PML-N leader said.

He quoted Mr Sharif as telling the meeting: “We do not accept this engineered change in Balochistan. The mandate of the people of the province has been stolen and this is unfortunate.”

When contacted, PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha said Mr Sharif was upset over losing his party’s government in Balochistan. “Mr Sharif is frustrated because he knows the PML-N is going to lose some eight Senate seats from the province in the coming election,” he said.

Mr Agha said that power had been transferred in Balochistan in a democratic way as the legislators were not happy with the performance of the PML-N’s chief minister and Mr Sharif’s stance against the state institutions. “Our party’s chief minister will come up to expectations of the people of Balochistan,” Senator Agha said and advised Mr Sharif to “stop insulting the people of the province”.

“The participants discussed failure of the PAT-led rally on the Mall on Wednesday and the use of word laanat for parliament by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan that has invited ire from all quarters,” the source said.

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