Balochistan governor to quit, race for replacement begins

Sunday, 24 February 2013

ISLAMABAD: The race for governorship of Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Balochistan province seems to have kicked off after the incumbent governor informed the president he had lost the ‘moral authority’ to continue in office, political sources confirmed yesterday.

Governor Zulfiqar Magsi, in a meeting with President Asif Zardari, said on Friday he was no longer interested in ruling the province. “After this wake-up call, President Zardari made up his mind to appoint a new governor in Balochistan,” said a senior official of the president’s office.

Next week is crucial, he added, as three stakeholders — Pakistan Peoples Party of President Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League-Q of Shujaat Hussain and Jamiat Ulema Islam of Fazlur Rehman — are set to hold a meeting to select the right man for the job.

Several leaders, irrespective of their political affiliation, are floating names of several hopefuls for the slot.

Sources in the president’s office said Senate Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch, Gul Jogezai, Ghaus Barozai, member of National Assembly Usman Mengal, Balochistan minister Shahnawaz Marri, Major (retd) Ashraf Nasir and Lt Gen (retd) Javed Qazi are being considered as potential candidates.

The new governor will likely hail from the Pashtun belt of the province, said PML-Q leader Jan Jamali.

Magsi had offered his resignation in previous meetings with President Zardari and Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf due to the deteriorating law and order situation in the province, but was asked to continue in his job.

JUI leader Ghafoor Haidri, who met the president earlier this week, said, when contacted, “We will like to give our input on the selection of new governorship if the PPP requests it.”

Observer Muhammad Talpur said, “The change in governorship in Balochistan is pointless as it is nothing more than a change of face. The real authority as always will remain with the army. Unless the nationalists who are fighting agree to make peace there will be no peace.”

Sources also said that the government had decided to end governor’s rule in Balochistan by appointing a new chief minister in the provincial assembly. Last month, the federal government imposed governor’s rule to meet a demand of the Shia Hazaras following a deadly attack on their community in Quetta that left over 100 people dead.



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