Back to the throne: Balochistan’s game of musical chairs
Back to the throne: Balochistan’s game of musical chairs

FOLLOWING the ouster of Balochistan’s former chief minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri in 2018, Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, who hails from the insurgency-hit area of Awaran, served as chief minister from January 13, 2018 to June 7, 2018. He had submitted the no-confidence motion against the powerful Nawab, who resigned after reading the writing on the wall that he no longer could stand against the power that be in the country that had decided to dethrone him. Bizenjo won the chess game without perhaps knowing how to play it.

Three years on and he once again has become Balochistan CM after the ouster of former chief minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani in a similar fashion. Bizenjo was elected unopposed on October 29, 2021. He emerged victorious, in the words of a sitting minister, for he is the weakest politician that suits everyone around us.

Bizenjo’s second term is meant to correct all that has gone wrong during his first stint as chief minister of the province back in 2018. At the time when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was being humbled in Balochistan, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) wanted to take advantage of the situation by hobnobbing with the security establishment in the province before formation of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

As a result, Asif Ali Zardari sent his close aide Qayyum Soomro but he returned empty-handed when the BAP was formed overnight in order to rule the province. Instead of joining the PPP, most of Balochistan-based electables joined the BAP that went on to form Alyani-led provincial government, allied with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the party ruling at Centre.

Now political analysts are of the opinion that Zardari wants to reset the course of what had gone wrong some years back. It is for this reason, sources close to Nawab Sanaullah Zehri assert, the PPP leadership asked the Nawab to remain in touch with Bizenjo despite the fact that the latter had played a role in his ouster. Interestingly, he and other politicians, including retired Lt Gen Qadir Baloch who along with him had recently joined the PPP, are now often seen around Bizenjo, indicating that the Nawab has followed the advice of the party leadership.

Both of them were with the PML-N and quit the party for being anti-establishment. Insiders in the BAP share with Dawn that their party, especially the Bizenjo-led group, may join the PPP if they are asked to do so before the next general elections.

Prof Mohammad Arif, who teaches at the University of Balochistan, is of the opinion that whoever forms a government at Centre forms a government in Balochistan, but the former is least concerned about issues of the sparsely populated province due to their small number of seats in the National Assembly.

But this is not just about numbers, but also priorities. Bizenjo won his provincial assembly seat in the 2013 general elections with a mere 544 votes — the lowest ever received by a provincial assembly candidate — and also served as deputy speaker of the Balochistan Assembly from June 2013 to December 2015 before becoming the chief minister in 2018 for five months.

Analyst Jalal Noorzai, who is unhappy over the ouster of the Alyani government despite all flaws, believes no one proved any corruption charge against the person who served as CM for over three years. Sources close to Alyani concur he had even refused to approve a mega contract — worth Rs20 billion — of Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and other businessmen senators sitting in Islamabad. That is what cost him his seat, as Sanjrani continued to lobby against him in the corridors of power. Alyani, too, has shown his thunder on his twitter account against them, including MNAs from the PTI.

The case of Balochistan’s politics is curious: everyone, including the Baloch nationalists, are on one page, in terms of being given the share. This is why Baloch nationalists under the Balochistan National Party (BNP) umbrella too rally around Bizenjo these days for their share of the pie. Sanaullah Baloch is rallying harder around both CM Bizenjo and Senate chairman Sanjrani as it is said the BNP is offered two portfolios, as well as within BNP they are trying to convince their party leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal to allow them to take the share of the pie.

Who is Bizenjo?
Hailing from Awaran, and the eldest son out of five siblings, Mr Bizenjo was born in 1974 and completed his early education from his native town of Jhao, later earning a master’s degree in English from the University of Balochistan in 2000.

His late father Abdul Majid Bizenjo was elected thrice from the same Awaran constituency. Like his father, it is his third time he has been elected from Awaran. It is interesting to note he was elected first time from Awaran, and he joined the government of Jam Mohammad Yousaf, father of Mr Alyani, in 2002, under the dictatorial days of General Pervez Musharraf. Jan Mohammad is the first chief minister of Balochistan who completed his five years’ tenure.

In 2013, he was elected on a PML-Q ticket and joined Nawab Aslam Raisani’s cabinet. In 2018, he was reelected from Awaran. But unfortunately, his native town Jhao in Awaran bears a deserted look in the 21st century, where people still lack basic facilities living in their mud-walled houses, let alone the roads, despite being elected from there for over 30 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.