The PML-N finds itself caught between the devil and the deep sea after Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, the party’s provincial head, has refused to give up his efforts to gain the office of the Balochistan chief minister against the wishes of the party leadership.
There are three strong candidates – two from the PML-N and one from the National Party – to lead the future ruling coalition in Balochistan.
They include Zehri, the newly-appointed parliamentary leader of the PML-N and provincial party president, Nawabzada Changaiz Marri, another senior party leader and Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, head of the National Party.
Zehri, who declared his candidature for the top slot without taking the party’s central leadership in confidence, started his efforts soon after the general elections entering into negotiations with the political groups and independent members, and promising them lucrative portfolios.
Party insiders say Zehri’s solo flight annoyed the central PML-N leadership.
Marri put all his energies in the central party cadre lobby for himself. The party leadership appeared to be tilted in his favour for being the eldest son of Baloch separatist, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, who is considered to be leading a militant group, the Baloch Liberation Army, in the province.
On the other hand, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, a soft spoken belonging to the middle class, has the backing of Pashtun nationalist group, the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, which bagged 10 seats in the elections.
Mir Hasil Bezenjo, a senior party leader, did extensive lobbying for his party’s chief to win the top slot in the province.
PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai is said to have asked Shahbaz Sharif to consider Dr Abdul Malik for the position of chief minister if the PML-N wanted to have a corruption-free coalition and rule of law in Balochistan.
Party insiders claim that on Tuesday, the party leadership started consulting the would-be coalition partners as well as Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the head of Balochistan National Party-Mengal over government formation in Balochistan. Both Zehri and Marri are said to be making efforts to convince the leadership in their favour.
Marri has an edge over his competitor because of being noncontroversial. Zehri on the other hand is involved in blood feuds and differences within the family as well as with other tribes. He also developed differences with Baloch nationalists when he nominated two elderly Baloch leaders Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Sardar Attaullah Mengal as well as their scions including Sardar Akhtar Mengal in the murder of his son, brother and nephew.
Although the Baloch Liberation Front, headed by Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, claimed responsibility for the triple murder, Zehri still thinks the elderly nationalists are behind the murder.
However, the three nationalist leaders deny the charges, saying Zehri was being misguided by intelligence agencies.
The PML-N leadership is being convinced to not to nominate Zehri, who is allegedly said to be desperate to take revenge for the murders of his son, brother and nephew and could go to any extent in settling the score if becomes the chief minister. And in such circumstances, Zehri’s actions against Marri and Mengal tribes may ignite a tribal war in Balochistan that may shatter Nawaz Sharif’s dream of turning Balochistan “a cradle of peace”.
And no assurances have come from Zehri for the party leadership that his “tribal affairs” will not influence the administrative affairs of the province once he takes over as chief minister.
Mengal, the MPA elect and head of the BNP-M, is said to have categorically asked Nawaz, who has a soft corner for Mengal, not to include his party in the future coalition if Zehri is chosen for the top slot.
The party leaders have suggested to Nawaz that if he opts for a party member to be made chief minister, he should go for Marri, and if he doen go with Marri, he should drop both Marri and Zehri and extend parliamentary support to Balochistan nationalist Dr Abdul Malik Baloch who already has the support of 25 MPs.
In such a case, the PML-N will be one of major coalition partners having some influence over the day-to-day affairs of the province.
It is now up to the PML-N leader whether he wants his dream of a peaceful Balochistan to be materialised through a clean and a stable ruling coalition or not.
PML-N leadership should nominate Nawabzada Changaiz Marri for the post of Chief Minister of Balochistan. Otherwise it should support Dr Abdul Malik Baloch of National Party for the CM slot.
Zehri is clearly defying the party's interests to promote himself and he doesn't mind blackmailing and making things difficult for his own team-mates to advance himself. If he backed down he would at least gain Nawaz's favor but he's so adamant to advance himself, to take revenge, and to stroke his own ego that he is blinded to reason. That Nawaz ever even gave him such a senior position in the party speaks badly about his decision making and ability to judge character and make the best decisions for the country….Zehri is not only all of this, but everything this article says about him is true; he is involved in blood feuds with everyone who he ever came across…he is deeply disliked by many in Balochistan…he was financially broke just 6 years ago and but of course he is a "Sardar" as well as a sponsor of various illicit enterprises so making money is as easy as transferring it from the next unfortunate victim to his own account.
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