Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Sunday night dissolved the provincial government of Nawab Aslam Raisani and decided to impose Governor’s Rule in Balochistan following strong protests by the minority Shia community across the country, particularly in Quetta, where a large number of Hazara Shias have been protesting since Friday along with bodies of 85 victims of the twin bombings that struck the provincial capital’s Alamdar Road.
Per reports, the Governor’s Rule has been imposed under Article 234 according to which the decision will remain in force for two months, after which the federal government will have to get it ratified from both Houses of parliament. The announcement to this effect was made during a late night visit by Prime Minister Ashraf to the sit-in organised by the Hazara Shias. According to reports, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani and his entire cabinet were opposed to the idea of imposition of Governor’s Rule in the province and had instead offered an in-house change. However, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had urged the prime minister to impose governor’s rule in Balochistan. Addressing the Hazara Shia leaders, Prime Minister Ashraf said the government was concerned about the situation in Balochistan and was sorry for the human losses suffered by the minority community. He said the entire provincial cabinet had been sacked with immediate effect and Governor Magsi had been directed to ensure law and order in the province at all costs.
He said the Frontier Corps had been empowered to carry out operations against terrorists and the federal government would not allow further bloodletting in the violence stricken province. Ashraf also promised monetary compensation to the affected Hazara families before January 31 and employment to the family members of those killed in violent incidents. The Hazara leaders present during the meeting repeated their demand of army deployment in Quetta, to which the prime minister said Governor Magsi was now empowered to summon assistance from any agency he deemed appropriate. Chief of the Hazara tribe, Sardar Saadat Ali Hazara expressed confidence in the prime minister’s announcement regarding Governor’s Rule, but said the protesting Hazaras would bury their dead when the government notifies Governor Magsi’s appointment as chief executive of the province in the morning. Earlier in the day, having explored all available options, the top leadership of the country mulled various options including an in-house change in Balochistan Assembly because the political dispensation did not want to impose Governor’s Rule in Balochistan due to crucial legal implications that could delay elections in the province by six months, while the military leadership was also unwilling to deploy forces in the terrorism-hit city of Quetta, Pakistan Today learnt through reliable sources. An informed source in the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) told Pakistan Today that the law experts of the government had warned against the legal implications of imposition of Governor’s Rule in Balochistan which might cause an imminent delay in holding of elections in the province for at least six months. The source added that the army leadership had also expressed its reluctance to deploy troops in Quetta, as this move may have negative implications for the army leadership. “The army deployment would provide the Baloch nationalists and separatist groups an opportunity to propagate against the army. If attacked by the terrorists, the army would call in air cover to take action against the militants. Any support from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) may lead to media criticism against army and the hawkish media and Baloch nationalists would be able to draw a false picture that an army action was being conducted in the province,” said the source.
PPP, PML-Q lawmakers for in-house change: Some of the vocal lawmakers of the PPP and PML-Q had also urged President Asif Zardari to send Raisani, the Balochistan Police inspector-general (IG) and the Frontier Constabulary Balochistan IG packing, a source in the PPP said. “In a joint letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal, Adviser to Prime Minister Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Adviser to Prime Minister Fawwad Chaudhry, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Ahmed Yar Heraj and Minister for Professional and Technical Training Shaikh Waqas Akram expressed grave concern over the situation in Balochistan with a particular focus on Quetta and called for adopting a democratic solution to the problem”.


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