Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dr Malik may break the ice in Balochistan

Mumtaz AlviWednesday, June 12, 2013
From Print Edition

Islamabad:  Newly-installed Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch of the National Party (NP) faces a plethora of problems and at the top of list are: recovery of mutilated bodies, volatile security and absence of good governance from the provincial machinery.

During his stint as senator from 2006 to 2012, Dr Malik on numerous occasions, spoke fearlessly on the floor of the upper house and raised the issue of missing persons and throwing of bodies, and declared that without addressing these two, no headway could be made to win back loyalty of the separatist forces.

“If they keep on losing their dear ones, don’t think of reversal of the situation the people of Balochistan are in today. They must feel free to move around and take part in politics,” Dr Malik had once asserted in an informal chat with The News at the Parliament cafeteria.

A top leader of the ruling party Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said that the chief minister would explore all possible options to reach out to those, who appear to be no more interested in the federation and have adopted a different course of action.

“The issues are grave but our resolve is firm to tackle them with the support of all the stake-holders, including the military,” conceded a central leader of NP Senator Bizenjo while talking to The News here.

Quoting the chief minister, Senator Bizenjo maintained that letting his party leader become head of the new provincial government was a very good gesture from PML-N leadership. However, he made it clear that Dr Malik, who declared on the floor of the Balochistan Assembly on Sunday and even before that clearly told the party ranks and the allies that he would quit if he feels that he was not being allowed to work freely and independently.

Asked whether the chief minister at some stage could dispatch some politicians to interact with the separatists abroad, he said that this could not be ruled out.

Dr Malik is neither a Sardar nor a Nawab. These titles have been considered a prerequisite for becoming governor or chief minister of Balochistan. Hence, his elevation as chief minister is an exception in the province dominated by tribes.

Initially, two Sardars from the province-Sanuallah Zehri and Changez Mari frantically tried to push for the coveted slot of chief minister but Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif succeeded in convincing them to let a commoner lead the new provincial government.

The chief minister, among other issues, will face the challenge of containing his own party legislators and allied parties’ MPAs, as going by the Constitution, he would not be able to form a jumbo cabinet, which existed during the tenure of ex-chief minister Aslam Raisani from 2008 to 2013.

He did MBBS from Bolan Medical College and afterwards specialised in eye surgery but could not continue with his profession for long and formed Baloch National Youth Movement in 1987. He founded the Balochistan National Movement, which was headed initially by ex-senator Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch.

Dr Malik had the opportunity to work with Nawab Akbar Bugti and Sardar Attaullah Mengal, who led the Balochistan National Alliance. He contested the 1988 general election for a provincial assembly seat: he was made health minister after he returned to the legislature and later on served the province as education minister after winning a seat in 1993 elections.

Dr Malik and Hasil Bizenjo merged their respective parties, namely BNM and the National Democratic Party to form the National Party in 2004 and within two years, he managed to get elected a senator.

He made notable contribution in thrashing out the 18th Amendment, which provided some solace to the most neglected Balochistan.

Challenges to his government are huge but given his clean credentials and support of the tribal chieftains and other stakeholders, it is strongly believed, Dr Malik will be able to deliver.

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