Former deputy speaker of Balochistan Assembly bags 41 votes to become province’s third CM in four years
Balochistan Governor Achakzai administers oath to Bizenjo, 14 members of provincial cabinet
Bizenjo says will reach out to all political parties for consultations to resolve issues facing Balochistan
QUETTA: Balochistan Assembly’s former deputy speaker Abdul Quddus Bizenjo was elected the new chief minister of the province on Saturday amid tight security measures. He took oath as the CM after Sanaullah Zehri stepped down ahead of a no-confidence motion against him.
During a session of the Balochistan Assembly, Speaker Raheela Hameed Durrani made the official announcement of electing Bizenjo as the province’s chief minister.
Thousands of policemen were deployed around the assembly hall and surrounding roads were also sealed off for regular traffic.
Bizenjo, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), was voted in as the third chief minister of Balochistan in four years in a session of the provincial assembly. He was elected after former CM Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri stepped down from his post on the day a no-trust motion moved by opposition members was to be taken up by the House.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Agha Syed Liaqat Ali was the only contestant against Bizenjo after Abdul Rahim Khan Ziaratwal of PkMAP party stepped down in his favour.
The National Party, once a key partner in the coalition government, opted not to sit either on the treasury or the opposition benches. Its MPAs Khalid Langove, Mujeebur Rehman and Fatah Buladi besides Pakhtunkhwa Mill Awami Party (PkMAP) MPA Manzoor Kakar voted for Bizenjo.
Balochistan Assembly Speaker Rahila Durrani announced Bizenjo’s victory after the process of voting formally ended.
Bizenjo won over 41 votes of the 54 votes cast while Agha received only 13 votes. In a house of 65 members, at least 33 votes are required to elect the CM.
The newly-elected CM and his 14-member cabinet were administered the oath by Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai.
The cabinet members include: Tahir Mehmood Khan, Sardar Sarfraz Khan Domki, Nawab Changez Khan Marri, Mir Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti, Rahat Jamali, Abdul Majeed Abro, Asim Kurd Giloo, Mir Amir Rind, Ghulam Dastagir Badini, Muhammad Akbar Askani, Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, Agha Raza, Manzoor Ahmed Kakar and Prince Ahmed Ali.
On Friday, Bizenjo, an MPA from Awaran district, had submitted five nomination papers each proposed and seconded by members of allied parties.
He was proposed by Jan Muhammad Jamali, Sardar Bhootani, Dr Ruquyia Saeed Hashmi, Zafarullah Zehri and Ghulam Dastagir Badini, and seconded by Sarfraz Bugti, Amanullah Notezai, Prince Ahmed Ali, Mir Aamir Khan Rind and Molvi Maazullah.
Zehri, the former chief minister of Balochistan, was reportedly asked to resign ahead of the session to spare his party — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — further embarrassment after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi failed to win over the disgruntled elements in the Balochistan Assembly.
PM Abbasi had reportedly advised Zehri to resign after dissenting leaders rejected his invitation to discuss outstanding issues, sources within the PML-N had said.
Speaking to reporters, Bizenjo said that he will come up to the expectations of the parties who have expressed their confidence in him.
“I will reach out to all political parties, including PkMAP and NP for parliamentary consultation and we will try to resolve issues in the province by keeping everyone together,” said the newly-elected chief minister.
During his inaugural speech in the Balochistan Assembly, he promised to give healthcare, education and clean drinking water to the people during his tenure. He also said that bureaucrats should support him in implementing his plans for the betterment of the province and to effectively address the problems faced by the citizens.
“I will use the short time given to me to find solutions to the problems of citizens and will try to boost good governance,” he added.
Bizenjo also said that water scarcity issue in Quetta would be addressed by his government on a priority basis. Commenting on Zehri’s resignation, he said that he had the utmost respect for him as he resigned from his post per democratic tradition.
WHO IS THE NEW CM?
Born in 1974, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo completed his initial education in his native town of Shindi located in remote Awaran tehsil, and secured a Master’s degree in English from the University of Balochistan in 2000.
Retracing the steps of his father, who was thrice elected from Awaran, Bizenjo commenced his political career from his hometown Shindi Jhao Awaran.
Elected to the Balochistan Assembly for the first time in 2002 from PB-41 Awaran, Bizenjo was sworn in as provincial minister for livestock and dairy development in Jam Yousuf’s cabinet. In 2008, he was re-elected on PML-Q’s ticket and joined Nawab Aslam Raisani’s cabinet as minister for livestock, successfully completing a five-year tenure.
After contesting general elections in 2013 again on PML-Q’s ticket, Bizenjo was elected MPA for the third time. When he joined the PML-N-led coalition government in the province, Bizenjo was nominated as the deputy speaker of the Balochistan Assembly in June 2013.
During the Senate election in 2015, Speaker Jan Muhammad Jamali quit the ruling PML-N and tendered his resignation from his post just before a no-trust motion was tabled against him. He resigned as deputy speaker when CM Nawab Sanaullah Zehri nominated Raheela Durrani as the new speaker of the provincial assembly.
On January 2, Bizenjo and 14 like-minded members of Balochistan Assembly submitted a no-confidence motion against Sanaullah Zehri of the PML-N, triggering a political crisis in the province. The crisis was averted on January 9 after Zehri tendered his resignation to Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai minutes before the no-confidence motion against him.