Thursday July 07, 2022

Trouble in the provinces

By Editorial Board
May 20, 2022

As the nation watches the political drama in the centre, and the rumour mills are in overdrive regarding early elections and a possible address to the nation today by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, there is yet another no-confidence move on the cards. This time, the site of contestation is Balochistan. Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo was elected unopposed in October last year, days after Jam Kamal resigned as CM Balochistan. On Monday, a no-confidence motion was submitted against CM Bizenjo in the provincial assembly. Similar to what happened during Jam Kamal’s vote of no-confidence, this time too there is support of some lawmakers from Bizenjo’s own party.

When Jam Kamal was ousted as CM, there was talk that the rebellion was more about accountability demands by him. Now, it is believed by some that the no-confidence move against Bizenjo is because he is seen as incompetent as a chief executive. Whatever the reasons, it is unfortunate how easily Balochistan’s governments seem to come and go – the province used more as an appendage than a real part of the federation. Such political uncertainty only leads to further alienation amongst the people of Balochistan, who have other issues that are hardly ever highlighted in the media. Despite the passage of the 18th Amendment, which gave financial autonomy to all provinces, not much has been done for the people of Balochistan. And the apathy is amply reflected also in the way the provincial government has been used mainly as a tool to make or break governments in the centre – and largely ignored after its work for power games in the centre is done.

Balochistan is not the only province going through a crisis. The situation in Punjab is most precarious – and has been for a while. With an impending ECP decision on dissident members of the PTI who voted for Hamza Shehbaz in the CM elections, new elections for a Punjab CM look inevitable. If the dissident members are de-seated, there may be two rounds of elections for CM if in the first no candidate is able to get the required 186 votes. For now, Hamza Shehbaz is sticking to his role as CM: holding pressers, lashing out at Imran Khan and also announcing a relief package for flour in Punjab. Punjab has been without a functioning government for weeks now, and it seems quite possible the status quo will remain so for some more time. Perhaps, a clearer idea on which way the federal government is going – early election or ‘tough decisions’ – will help the situation in Punjab a bit, though the variables are still far too many for anything to be certain.