Balochistan elections: Situation taking new turn

The situation pertaining to general elections 2013 is taking new turn in Balochistan after the Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s meeting with the top nationalist Baloch and Pashtoon leaders here.

The sources in the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) told, there was division in the leadership of BNP-M over the decision whether they should participate in the general elections or boycott it.

“Our leader Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal had contended that some armed groups were not leaving the BNP-M activists to run election campaign in Khuzdar, Kalat, Awaran, Kharan and Nushki districts and demanded the authorities to abolish these groups and provide full protection and safety to BNP-M leaders and activists, otherwise, they might review their decision,” sources in the BNP-M told.

However, after assurance by the Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and Caretaker Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai that relevant district authorities have been directed to ensure peace in the sensitive districts and that extra force of law enforcement agencies including the Frontier Corps, Police and Balochistan Constabulary was being deployed there, and Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s meeting with Sardar Mengal and seat-to-seat adjustment between PML-N and BNP-M has encouraged the latter to go in elections.

Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal who is being viewed by Baloch nationalists as most favorite candidate for the top slot of Balochistan government after the elections, he is candidate for PB-Wadh seat where his electoral rival is Mir Attaur Rehman Mengal who is also taken an influential tribal personality.

The party sources close to Sardar Mengal said that Dr Jehanzaib Jamaldini, Agha Hassan, Ghulam Nabi Marri and others have urged Sardar Mengal to contest general elections following the advice of his father Sardar Ataullah Mengal who have said that BNP-M might lose support of masses if it would boycott general elections. They said, however, the “Kalat group” that is taken as hardliner in BNP-M was not in favour of participating in general elections.

BNP-M has its influence and popularity in Central Balochistan’s areas including Khuzdar, Kalat, Mastung, Noshki, Awaran, Kharan, however, it may face tough competition in Panjgur where PML-N leader Gen. (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, National Party (NP) leader Dr. Abdul Malik and former provincial minister and BNP-Awami leader Mir Asad Baloch is also being taken as favorite candidates.

Another Baloch nationalist party National Party (NP) had adopted clear stance of participating in general elections. The NP has its most influence and popularity in Makran divisions’ district including Turbat, Gwadar and Panjgur. The NP may win elections in Makran belt; however, it would have to make hectic efforts to defeat former provincial minister and BNP-A leader Syed Ehsan Shah.

The NP may win seat in NA-268 Kalat-Mastung and PB-Quetta and Mastung seats due to personal tribal influence of their candidates including Nawab Muhammad Khan Shahwani and Sardar Kamal Khan Bangulzai, however, PML-N candidate Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, BNP-M candidate Agha Hassan, Nawabzada Yadgar Raisani, the son of former chief minister Balochistan Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani will give NP tough time as they have their personal tribal influence as well as party vote.

The political observers have been eying tough contest between Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Senator Hafiz Hamdullah who are candidates for NA-259 Quetta City. Both political parties have their remarkable vote bank in Quetta city.

When contacted, the party sources in PMAP said that settlers’ vote bank play significant role in winning of any candidate in this constituency. “After Mian Shahbaz Sharif announcement during his Wednesday visit to Quetta that PML-N would fully support Mehmood Khan Achakzai in elections in this constituency, they have been viewing their won in elections,” they said. However, Hafiz Hamdullah is also being taken as strong candidate due to religious vote bank of JUI-F.

In Lasbella constituency, former speaker Balochistan Assembly Muhammad Aslam Bhootani, Sardar Muhammad Saleh Bhootani and Jam Kamal, the son of late Jam Muhammad Yousuf are in election race and political observers have been taking Bhootanis’ as favorite candidates, however, the political influence of Jam family could not be ignored.

Former prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, ex-federal minister Mir Changez Jamali, former provincial minister Mir Saleem Khoso and Nawabzada Gohram Bugti, the grandson of late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti are candidates for NA-266 Jaffarabad-cum-Nasirabad seat. Although, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali is being taken as most favorite candidate, however, two candidates from a same family may cause division in vote bank of Jamali family.

Former provincial minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Mir Sadique Umrani has been contesting elections in PB-Nasirabad seat and his close circles claimed enjoying support of Magsi family, former federal minister Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind and other local elders.

Nawabzada Khalid Magsi and Nawabzada Tariq Magsi, the brothers of Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi have been participating in elections from Jhal Magsi seat and continued approaching their voters.

The political observers have observed that JUI-F may be big winner in Pashtoon belt areas where PkMAP might win few seats. The candidates of Baloch nationalist parties will dominate in Baloch belt districts; however, Baloch belt is also remain under influence of local tribal chieftains.

Nasirabad and Sibi division those are taken as Sindhi and Seraiki belt of Balochistan, candidates belonging to Jamali, Magsi, Khoso and Umrani families might be winners of the elections.

It could not be determined at this time that who would form next provincial government. Although, the nationalists are hopeful that they would clinch the top slot of the Balochistan government, however, the JUI-F and Pakistan Muslim League-Q will also remain in big players to form next provincial government.

Balochistan Times