By being named the next Chief Minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal Haider has managed to combine both ancient and modern forms of the hereditary principle. He is primarily the 13th Jam of Lasbela, a title which dates back to 1742, but he is also the first third-generation chief minister of Pakistan.
The ancient form of the hereditary principle involved the inheritance of the rulership by the heir of the monarch, who vacated the throne either by death or (much more rarely) by abdication. The heir was very often the eldest son, or a brother (especially among Muslim monarchs). Indeed, exactly what Jam Kamal inherited the title from his father, Jam Yousaf, and which he had earlier inherited from his own father, Jam Ghulam Qadir, and how the title had passed down from the founder of the dynasty, Jam Ali I, who had founded the state in 1742. The British had by then arrived, but had not yet turned their attention towards these north-western states which were springing up in the wake of the collapse of the Mughal Empire. They would do in the 19th century, when they not only established treaty relations with Lasbela but with Kalat and Makran.
Jam Ghulam Qadir, Jam Kamal’s grandfather, who had a long reign as Jam, from 1931 to 1988, saw not only the demise of one kind of hereditary principle, but the rise of another, After the abolition of the princely state in 1955, when it was absorbed into One-Unit as Lasbela district, he became Chief Minister of the new province of Baluchistan in April 1973, remaining until December 1974, having succeeded Ataullah Mengal, who was removed when Governor’s rule was imposed. He had headed a PPP government, thus heading an administration backed by the central government. He returned to office after the 1985 partyless elections, retaining office till the 1988 dismissal.
His son, Jam Yousaf, became Chief Minister in 2002, having previously been Water and Power Minister in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s first Cabinet. He succeeded his father as Jam in 1988, but was only elevated to the Chief Ministership when he went into the PML(Q), and was CM for the full five years of the tenure. He died in 2013.
Thus we can see that the hereditary principle was introduced into democracy, with it almost as if the successor by hereditary principle needs anointing by the votes of the electorate. That seemed emphasised by the succession to the office of Chief Minister. Aslam Raisani of the PPP, who was also Chief of Sarawan, was in office from 2008 to2013. Then Dr Abdul Malik Baloch of the National Party held office for half of the next tenure, and was noticed as the first CM who was not a tribal leader. Holding office until December 2015, he handed over to Sanaullah Zehri, the Chief of Jhalawan.
Zehri was removed after a rebellion by the PML(N) members, and was replaced by Abdul Quddus Bizenjo. He had no pedigree of the first kind, but he too is the son of a political father, the late Abdul Majeed Bizenjo, who had gone into the PPP at one point, but who had been a parliamentary secretary in Jam Ghulam Qadir’s administration.
The rebellion led to the formation of the Balochistan Awami Party, and Jam Kamal contested the recent election from its platform. He is forming a coalition with the Pakistan Tehrik Insaf, as well as other minor parties, the first in Pakistan, and the second in the Subcontinent, to hold a province’s chief ministry in three generations. (The first was Sh Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Umar Abdullah, the grandfather-father-son trio who at various times have been puppet chief ministers of Indian Held Kashmir. There is another example from India, of three generations occupying the prime ministership, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and even one from Sri Lanka of three members of the same family serving as Prime Minister (though because of a husband-wife pair covering only two generations), but at the lower level, it seems to be restricted. There has been an ‘almost’ in the Bhuttos, with father and daughter serving as PM, with the third generation represented in Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, but he has not achieved office yet.
The electoral principle in hereditary succession seems to have the advantage of overcoming one of its pitfalls: unsuitability. The history of hereditary monarchy is littered with the example of dynasties coming to grief because the person with the right to the throne also being unfit for the job. Indeed, there have been cases where the person was actually mad. In at least one case, that of George III of England, the madness only afflicted him after he had been many years on the throne. Thus, in Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto should have been succeeded by his eldest son, Murtaza, but instead he was succeeded by his eldest child, Benazir, a daughter. Thus elections seem more suitable than straightforward succession. In India, for example, Rajiv Gandhi’s son Rahul may have successfully taken over Congress Party, but the electorate turned him down resoundingly at the last election, and seems likely to keep on doing so.
It is perhaps an irony that the PTI, a party committed to ending hereditary leaders, should support someone who was not just a ‘native prince’ but the country’s first third-generation chief minister. However, the PTI is not out of this. Though it is led by Imran Khan, and though he is still in good health for a man of 65, there has already been some speculation about the fate of his party after him. He has not helped matters by marrying twice women who have families from previous marriages. The children of those marriages have been seen as possible aspirants for the leadership of the PTI. There have been examples of second wives becoming political heirs. (Zulfikar Ali Butto’s successor as PPP head was his second wife, Nusrat Bhutto. Jayalalithaa was not even married to M.G. Ramchandran, but succeeded him as head of the AIDMK and as Tamil Nadu CM, back in 1991.) But none of stepchildren. It must be said that one reason for this has been that stepchildren have generally not been part of the equation when political leaders marry a second wife. This is a concept Imran has introduced to the Subcontinent; the very first US President, George Washington, brought stepchildren to the White House.
It is worth noting that in Balochistan, there have been no women involved. The Jams of Lasbela are following the trend, rather than being exceptions to the rule, in never having wives or mothers as interrexes, as Nusrat Bhutto was for her husband, and Sonia Gandhi or hers. Another area where they have been lucky in recent times is in having the Jam die leaving behind an adult heir. It may be noted that the Jams are not like the Abdullahs in succeeding one another. Farooq came to office when his father retired. His son Umar was not his successor, coming to office after Governor’s rule. However, the Jams seem to have been establishment favourites. Jam Qadir first became Chief Minister when the centre replaced the Mengal government, and then after partyless elections. Jam Yousuf came to office in the 2002 elections conducted by Pervez Musharraf. Jam Kamal is coming to office on the BAP platform, which is thought to be an outfit engineered by the establishment.
The reverence given to political leaders extends to their children. From the time of the first election, back in 1936, when all were newcomers, to the present, there has been time for third- and even fourth-generation members to emerge. However, seeing whether these children can win elections provides a barrier to mere hereditary succession. Jam Kamal might well be a third-generation CM, but the PM he supports is first-generation.
The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as executive editor of The Nation.
Thus we can see that the hereditary principle was introduced into democracy, with it almost as if the successor by hereditary principle needs anointing by the votes of the electorate. That seemed emphasised by the succession to the office of Chief Minister.