Zehri resigns ahead of no-trust vote

QUETTA – Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri on Tuesday resigned amid the political turmoil that gripped the province after 14 lawmakers had tabled a no-confidence motion against him.

“The name of the next chief minister and a new setup will be announced within a week,” former home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti told media men after the assembly session which lasted hardly for 15 minutes.

However, the names of Saleh Bhootani, Sarfaraz Bugti and Chengez Marri have appeared in media reports as frontrunners for the post of chief minister.

Zehri’s spokesman, Jan Achakzai, said in a Twitter message that he tendered his resignation to “bring an end to instability” in the resource-rich province. Zehri had vowed to fight his political opponents to the end, but resigned to “bring an end to instability” in the province, which borders both Afghanistan and Iran, Achakzai said.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who arrived in Quetta on Monday to gain support against the no-trust motion could not succeed in garnering support for the PML-N chief minister despite hectic efforts.

Sensing the gravity of the situation, Sanaullah Zehri quitted the slot of the CM before the assembly could decide his fate.

PML-N Balochistan President Nawab Sanaullah Zehri who was accompanied by former CM Dr Abdul Malik Baloch tendered his resignation to Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai at the Governor House.

Zehri tendered his resignation under Article 130(8) of the Constitution of Pakistan. The governor accepted his resignation.

“I want the democratic process to remain intact in Balochistan and pledge that I will continue my struggle for the prosperity of the masses,” reiterated outgoing Zehri in a press statement.

“Running a coalition setup is not an easy task,” noted Zehri after he surrendered to the demand of dissidents and opposition lawmakers.

“Power is a temporary thing,” Zehri told reporters after his resignation. “We will go to the masses again.”

Zehri said that he did not wish to cause problems in the political setup of the province. He added that he was not in the habit of hanging onto power at any cost.

The 14 MPAs from treasury and opposition benches had expressed no confidence through a motion filed in the assembly secretariat against Zehri on January 2.

The motion triggered cracks within the PML-N while three ministers Safaraz Bugti, Rahat Jamali and Sarfaraz Domki; two advisers Amanullah Notezai and Majid Abro resigned from the provincial cabinet.

A day earlier, the prime minister advised Zehri to resign when the former failed to muster support for the latter during his Quetta visit, noted the sources.

The situation turned adverse for Zehri when opposition lawmakers and PML-N rebels rejected the premier’s offer for a meeting.

Sarfaraz Bugti made it clear that PkMAP would not be taken into new coalition setup.

The no-trust motion was withdrawn after the chief minister tendered resignation, Bugti told journalists, adding the new chief minister would be from the coalition parties and they would also elect new parliamentary leader of PML-N.

Historically, Zehri is not the first chief minister who succumbed to the vote of no-trust motion in Balochistan. No-confidence motions were also moved against four chief ministers, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, late Mir Taj Muhammad Jamali and Sardar Akhtar Mengal.

Sardar Attaullah Mengal served as CM from 1972 to 1973, Mir Taj Jamali held the office from 1990 to 93 and Sardar Akhtar Mengal was the ninth chief minister who held this office from Feb 22, 1997, to Jan 15, 1998. Zehri was the 15th chief minister who served the province for two years and 16 days.

Nothing can be said about what stance the two nationalist partners, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and National Party, will take as most of dissident lawmakers and opposition legislators were unhappy with PML-N’s way of governance.

 

OPP WITHDRAWS NO-TRUST MOVE

 

The Balochistan Assembly session was adjourned for indefinite period after the opposition parties and dissident lawmakers withdrew their no-confidence motion filed against CM who tendered resignation.

As the session began, after recitation of Hold Quran, the opposition withdrew their no-trust motion.

“Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai has accepted the resignation of Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri,” said a press release of the Balochistan government.

With approval of the resignation, said the press release, provincial ministers and advisers to chief minister have lost their portfolios.

“No discussion has been held among the opposition parties so far regarding the new chief minister,” Maulana Wasay, a JUI-F leader told a private TV channel. He added only rumours were circulating and these were ridiculous.

“Holding general polls won’t be possible if assembly was dissolved after election of the new chief minister,” said Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

 

BUGTI THANKS SUPPORTERS

 

Sarfaraz Bugti said the new chief minister will be selected after mutual consultation, and will not necessarily belong to the PML-N.

Addressing media after the resignation of Zehri, Bugti hailed the decision and said Zehri has resigned based on democratic principles. “This is politics. We have no personal vendettas. Our relation with him (Zehri) is based on respect and trust and will remain so,” he said.

He added it was a good example set by Zehri to have resigned and that an in-house change had come. He further said the next chief minister will be selected after consultation with allied political parties.

Regarding his status in the PML-N, Bugti said that he remains a part of the party but if he is forced to leave, then he will consider other options – either join another political party or become independent. However, he said that it is premature and he has not made any final decision.

Bugti refused to answer whether Zehri was pressurised to resign after the meeting with Prime Minister Abbasi. He also refuted rumours that the Balochistan Assembly will be the first to be dissolved ahead of the general elections.

“Democracy has won today. There has been accountability from within the House. A change from inside will strengthen democracy,” he said. “It is a good day for democracy, after 18th Amendment, that an in-house change has come,” he said.

 

 

Zehri resigns ahead of no-trust vote

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