ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wishes to retain Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch contrary to a political deal, but faces revolt from the ‘anxious’ provincial chapter of his party, The Nation has learnt.

Dr Baloch of National Party became the 21st chief minister of Balochistan on June 7, 2013, as the first non-tribal leader. He has a good relationship with Prime Minister Sharif.

Violence and targeted killings comparatively dropped during his time while construction of roads and electrification were helping to upgrade infrastructure of the province.

After the 2013 general elections, PML-N, NP and other parties inked an agreement to rule the province for equal half terms by 2018.

The NP was given the first half term and Dr Baloch as CM was supposed to resign after completing two and a half years in office, giving way to a PML-N nominee.

The PM also appointed Muhammad Khan Achakzai from Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party as governor to appease nationalists and pave the way for peace talks with dissidents.

Balochistan Senior Minister Sanaullah Zehri is awaiting the prime minister’s decision to implement the deal so that he could replace Malik.

However, the prime minister is considering pros and cons of his decision. Some nationalists, led by National Party, are also supporting the move to discard the 2013 deal and let Dr Baloch continue as the chief minster.

A close aide of the prime minister told The Nation that Sharif personally wanted to give the go-ahead to the incumbent chief minister, but fears a strong reaction from the Balochistan chapter of his party.

“The prime minister thinks Baloch has performed well and the setup should not be disturbed. The parties other than PML-N from the province also support this point of view, but Sharif is under pressure from his own party,” the aide said.

He said the party leaders from Balochistan were flocking to Islamabad to convince the prime minister to announce the implementation of the political deal. He added the PM was expected to reach a decision soon. “Currently, everybody is looking toward the PM. Even the Balochistan CM is keeping away from the official business,” he added.

PML-N leader from Balochistan, Senator Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, warned the party would disintegrate in the province if Sharif allowed Baloch to continue.

“I will resign from the Senate and the party if the PM decides in favour of NP. The agreement must be implemented to keep PML-N intact,” he asserted.

Zehri said the party would not find even a single worker in Balochistan if NP was allowed to complete full term in office. “They are targeting PML-N workers and leaders as aliens. They have never considered us as their coalition partners. Some people are giving them credit for peace, but this job was, in fact, done by the army,” he told The Nation.

Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch also wants the 2013 deal, known as the Murree Accord, to be implemented, allowing a PML-N CM to take the charge. The minister, a signatory to the agreement, said PML-N candidates were hopeful of a change in Balochistan. He also warned there would be problems for PML-N in Balochistan if the accord was ignored.

He said there should not be any problem as Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch was ready to step down under the accord.

Earlier, Sanaullah Zehri said he would form an exemplary government in Balochistan. Nawaz Sharif had nominated him as the future CM of the province and he was ready to take on the challenge.

There are also reports that PML-N is considering two names, Sanaullah Zehri and Nawabzada Changez Murree, for a future CM if the PM decided in favour of a change.

NP lawmaker Sardar Kamal Khan Bangulzai said it was for the PM to decide the fate of the Balochistan government, but his party had been performing better than all the previous administrations.

“There was an agreement and we are not denying it. If the PM wants a change, we have no objection. If performance is a criterion, ours is far better than the previous governments,” he said.

Bangulzai said the PML-N leaders in Balochistan were very anxious to occupy the CM’s office and NP would accept their right. “We will not protest even if the cabinet is reshuffled,” he added.

The legislator said the NP-led government had improved law and order in the province and started dialogue with the dissidents. “It is because of our efforts that resentment in Balochistan has subsided,” he claimed.