Crisis in the assembly

September 26, 2021

A no-confidence motion has been submitted yet again in the Balochistan assembly

Crisis in the assembly

On September 14, the opposition submitted a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister (CM) Jam Kamal in the Balochistan assembly. Sixteen members of the opposition signed the motion and in it, they alleged that CM Kamal has violated Articles 37 and 38 of the constitution due to which poverty, deprivation, and unrest had increased in areas of Balochistan. This sudden move increased the political temperature in Balochistan after a long break of coolness. It also was reminiscent of January 2018 when a no-confidence motion led to the toppling of CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri’s government.

Once the motion was submitted, the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) visibly split into two groups. The more dominant group appeared to be comprising those who were against CM Jam Kamal and inclined towards voting in support of the opposition’s no-confidence motion. Even some allies of the BAP expressed concerns over the Jam Kamal government, and did not hide their desire to jump ship. On September 17, a rumor was floated that CM Kamal had resigned. Many people considered it to be true; but after a few hours, it was denied by the government’s spokesperson.

At the same time, Sadiq Sanjrani, the Chairperson of the Senate; who is also a member of BAP, reached Quetta to pacify the rebel members of BAP. According to sources, Sanjrani and other elders of BAP succeeded in getting a temporary reprieve for CM Kamal for the next 15 days. Reportedly, the ‘rebelling members’ of the BAP agreed to allow CM Kamal to address their concerns in the next 15 days or else they will support the toppling of his government. Resultantly, on October 19, the governor’s secretariat returned the no-confidence motion of opposition on technical grounds, and asked the opposition to re-submit it.

It’s still uncertain if CM Kamal will survive this political crisis. It will take another two weeks before this crisis can reach a definite conclusion. However, the pressing question is: Why does the government of CM Kamal, since assuming office in August 2018, end up facing threats every few months? The answer lies in the way the BAP was created.

One fine morning in March 2018, in the run-up to July 2018 general elections, former disgruntled members of PML-N and some other electables went ahead and formed the BAP. Jam Kamal, who was then the state minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources in the cabinet of then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, resigned from the cabinet and became the president of BAP. After the 2018 elections, BAP became the single largest party and formed a government with the help of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and other regional parties.

Hence, the politicians who joined forces to form BAP did not do it for any ideological reasons. They did not have uniformity in views or form the party because they had a unified development agenda and hence wanted to achieve it. It is widely believed that they perhaps only joined the party due to political opportunism so that they could allegedly get ministries and development funds and continue ruling over their constituencies.

However, not all of these members could get the ministries of their choice and development funds as they had demanded. Therefore, they became disgruntled and it is possible that they remain on the lookout for any possible move to change the arrangement by getting rid of CM Kamal. In this context, it would be unrealistic for anyone to hope that members of BAP will stay loyal to Jam Kamal if their interests are not served. It can be said that what’s happening now is bound to happen with the parties like BAP.

Moreover, the reasons why the BAP members have rebelled against CM Kamal and why the opposition is siding with them seem purely financial. Some of the disgruntled members have not yet got development funds for the projects they had proposed. Others are angry presumably because the contracts for certain projects were not allotted to the contractor of their choice. While for some, it is said that their administrative departmental secretaries were not willing to twist rules. Likewise, the main concern of opposition members is also a lack of allotment of development funds.

Furthermore, the way events unfolded hints at the fact that the opposition was strung along by the rebelling members of BAP. Unfortunately, the opposition has so far not shown resistance to any decision of the government based on public interest. Apart from the rhetoric mentioned in the text of the no-confidence motion, the opposition has not shared any plans on how they will serve the public interest once they get rid of Jam Kamal as CM.

The frequent threats to the provincial government and the political crisis destabilise the governance in the province. What happens as a consequence of such a political crisis is that the government makes compromises, which poses the danger of serving elite interests only. All the good the government is doing in the form of a few decent development projects and exceptionally well social welfare programs will suffer due to the ongoing political uncertainty in a way that is against the public interest.

The writer is a journalist and researcher. He can be reached on Twitter: @iAdnanAamir.

Crisis in the assembly