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Balochistan coalition: Independents set to play kingmakers role


July 31, 2018

QUETTA: With the end of elections, dust has been stirred once again with intense wheeling, dealing, bargaining and negotiations for the formation of the Balochistan government and prized slots within the cabinet.

The game has become all the more challenging as none of the parties have the required numbers to form government on their own and in all likelihood the coalition would have three to four partners, besides a bunch of independents.

Nevertheless Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and PTI of Imran Khan have emerged as among the front runners for setting up the next provincial dispensation, with independents eyeing the “king maker” role.

In the number’s game, BAP is leading with 17 PA seats, two independent MPAs-elect, Mitha Khan and Sardar Masood Luni, have joined the party. BNP-Mengal has 7 and PTI has 6 seats. Two independent MPAs elect-Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran and Arif Muhammad Hasni, have yet to decide about joining a party.

The BAP and PTI’s leadership are engaged in an apparent tug of war to muster the support of the newly elected MPAs. The BAP’s chief Jam Kamal claims to have the required numbers of the MPAs for the formation of coalition government. While, the PTI’s central spokesman Fawad Chaudhry made a similar claim saying: “We are in a position to form the coalition government in Balochistan”. The PTI’s provincial chief Sardar Yar Muhammad contacted BNP-Awami, BAP and independents to seek their support for the government.

The BAP leadership has staked claim to the government by announcing that it has the required strength for formation of the provincial government.

In the meantime, the BAP leadership contacted ANP and the HDP’s newly elected MPAs, besides other parties having representation in the assembly. The ANP with three PA seats has seemingly assured support to BAP in forming the government. Similarly, HDP with its two members, has also assured support to BAP. In a joint news conference at Quetta with the BAP’s chief Jam Kamal, the ANP provincial president Asghar Khan Achakzai announced support for the BAP-led government. Subsequently, in a another news conference Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) also assured support to the BAP in forming the government.

At the other end, the BNP-Mengal is also lobbying for leading the coalition and it contacted the MMA and other likeminded political parties to form the government. But, its leadership has said the final decision would be taken in the central committee meeting. The BNP-Mengal secured 7 PA seats, while MMA bagged 9 provincial assembly seats in the elections. It needs support of 18 members for the formation of BNP-Mengal led government.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal had led the provincial coalition government with the JUI-F after the 1997 general elections. This factor of past association goes in favour of the Mengal-led party and analysts believe the MMA may not have any hesitation in working with the BNP-Mengal.In the tug of war between BAP, PTI and BNP in Balochistan for the top slot, it is becoming crystal clear that the future government would be a coalition of at least three political parties, but the mystery remains over the coalition leader.

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