QUETTA - Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri yesterday was sworn in by Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai as new chief minister of Balochistan at a ceremony here at the Governor House.

The ceremony was attended by former chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, National Party President Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, opposition leader Maulana Abdul Wasey, leaders of different political parties and senior civil and military officials.

Earlier, Nawab Zehri was unanimously elected leader of the house by the Balochistan Assembly. Some 54 out of total 65 members of the assembly were present in the house.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Parliamentary Leader Abdur Raheem Ziaratwal moved the resolution signed by over 45 members, including Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, which said: “This house unanimously reposes its trust in Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri for the office of chief minister, Balochistan.”

Speaker Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani who was in the chair asked the lawmakers who supported the motion to stand up on their seats and then asked the assembly secretary to conduct counting. All of 54 members present in the house, including the opposition leader, deputy opposition leader and those belonging to PML-N, PML-Q, PkMAP, National Party and JUI-F, voted for Nawab Zehri.

The chief minister’s slot fell vacant on Wednesday (December 23) after the resignation of Dr Baloch in accordance with the Murree Accord. Nawab Zehri of PML-N was the only candidate who had filed his nomination forms for the office of chief minister, so he was declared elected unopposed.

Nawab Zehri belongs to Khuzdar area of the province and is the chief of Zehri and other tribes living in Jhalawan belt. He was elected member of the Balochistan Assembly several times and remained minister in the cabinets of different chief ministers, including Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani and Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. He was also elected as a senator.

Nawaz Zehri joined PML-N a few years back on the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and was elected president of its Balochistan chapter.

Earlier, Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani of PML-N took oath as the Balochistan Assembly speaker. Presiding Officer Syed Liaquat Ali Agha administered oath to her on the assembly premises.

She was elected unopposed as the speaker. She is the first woman in the history of Balochistan to be elected as the Balochistan Assembly speaker.

The seat had become vacant after Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali tendered his resignation following the party’s instructions.

The returning officer announced that Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani had been elected speaker unopposed.

Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani was elected Balochistan Assembly member in 2013 on the ticket of PML-N against a reserved seat. Earlier, she worked as provincial minister for prosecution in the cabinet of Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani. She is a law graduate, experienced and senior lawyer and senior office-bearer of scouts association.

Chief Minister Sanaullah Khan Zehri, ex-chief minister Abdul Malik Baloch, opposition leader in the Balochistan Assembly, Maulana Abdul Wasey and provincial ministers and parliamentarians congratulated Rahila Hameed Khan Durrani on assuming the office of the Balochistan Assembly speaker.

Chairing the session of the Balochistan Assembly, she said she would play her due role for the rule of law. “I will run the house in accordance with the rules and regulations of the assembly,” she said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a telephonic call to Sardar Sanaullah Zehri and congratulated him on his election as the Balochistan chief minister. The prime minister hoped Balochistan would develop and prosper under his leadership. He extended his full support to the government of Zehri in keeping peace and development in the province.

The newly elected chief minister thanked the prime minister for his support and assured him of leaving no stone unturned to ensure stability and progress in Balochistan.