QUETTA - As the general elections are approaching, political activities are gaining momentum while political parties seem busy in maneuvering and trying to woo key leaders.

As far as Balochistan is concerned, the pace of changing parties or loyalties is quite slow as compared to other parts of the country. However, in the coming days, changing loyalties by the Baloch politicians cannot be ruled out, particularly by those who are part of the incumbent provincial government.

Balochistan witnessed a massive change of loyalties during General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s regime; particularly, after the formation of the National Accountability Bureau, a large number of politicians of PML-N and PPP took refuge in the Q-League.

Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hasni, a central PPP leader from Chagai district who was on self-exile, joined PML-Q in Pervez Musharraf’s government after coming back to the country. After some time PPP welcomed him back in its fold owing to his strong position in his constituency.

PPP Balochistan received a shock when its provincial president Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani not only resigned from the party but also tendered resignation from the Senate. According to sources close to him, the main reason was his differences with the policies of the federal government and strategies of Interior Minister Rehman Malik. The party sources told this correspondent that the PPP central leadership was still making efforts to bring Lashkari Raisani back into its fold and several key leaders of the party had met him in this connection.

Former prime minister and veteran politician, Mir Zafarullah Jamali, also changed loyalties, left PML-N and joined PML-Q following preparation of some references against him during Pervez Musharraf’s rule. The other political figures of Jamali family like former Senate deputy chairman Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali, and ex-provincial minister Mir Abdur Rehman Jamali, brother of Mir Zafarullah Jamali, also joined PML-Q.

After vacation of his provincial assembly seat from Jaffarabad district, Mir Abdur Rehman Jamali once again changed his loyalties and joined PPP. He won the seat on PPP ticket and now he is a PPP minister for law and parliamentary affairs. According to political observers, political figures from Jamali family could change their loyalties before the coming elections.

Similarly, the members of Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi’s family also changed their positions keeping in view their interests. Zulfiqar Magsi was in PML-N before Pervez Musharraf’s takeover. He was arrested under a NAB reference and could not contest elections because of punishment under that reference. His wife Parveen Magsi, however, contested elections in 2002 and 2008 on reserved seats on PML-Q tickets.

Governor Magsi contested the 2008 election as an independent candidate. He was a potential candidate for the post of the chief minister, but was made the governor soon after the elections. His eldest son, Barrister Saifullah Magsi, was elected as a senator on the PPP ticket, while his (governor’s) brother, Nawabzada Muhammad Akbar Magsi, won the Senate sear as an independent candidate.

Former chief minister and sitting federal minister Mir Jam Muhammad Yousuf, a PML-N leader, also changed his loyalties in Musharraf’s regime and joined PML-Q. Jam Yousuf is also PML-Q president of Balochistan chapter.

After his return from Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif made efforts to unite different groups of Muslim League, but he failed to do so.

PML-N is strengthening its position and striving to muster support of influential politicians and tribal leaders in Balochistan.

It has succeeded in gaining support of chief of Jhalawan and provincial minister, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, and Nawabzada Changez Marri, son of Baloch nationalist leader Nawabzada Khair Bakhsh Marri.

Zehri was a leader of Balochistan National Party (BNP) which boycotted the general elections 2008. Later, he founded his own party, National Party Parliamentarians. When he joined PML-N, he merged his party into it. PML-N has also succeeded in bringing MPA Capt (retd) Abdul Khaliq and MNA Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir into its fold. PML-N sources say more tribal elders and PML-Q MPAs are willing to join the party in the coming days once the election schedule is announced.

A leader of Balochistan National Party (Awami) and former Senator Muhim Khan Badini has joined BNP while a PML-Q leader, Manzoor Kakar, came into the fold of Pashtoon Khwa Milli Awami Party which is busy preparing for winning maximum seats.