Key allies in the now deposed Balochistan government have given the president until January 20 to lift governor’s rule or else they will “jam the airport and railway system” in a large-scale protest.
“President Asif Ali Zardari should immediately take back his decree and restore the provincial government under Article 236 of the Constitution,” Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, the provincial chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) told a news conference at the MPA Hostel in Quetta on Friday.
Maulana Sherani was flanked by Asad Baloch of the Balochistan National Party (Awami), Ali Madad Jattak of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Maulana Abdul Wasay of JUI-Ideological and other politicians.
The JUI-F and BNP-A have nine and seven seats, respectively, in the 65-member Balochistan Assembly. And if PPP’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Ali Madad Jattak is to be believed all but two PPP lawmakers – Sadiq Umrani and Jan Ali Changezai – support the call for lifting governor’s rule in Balochistan.
The president had imposed governor’s rule in Balochistan on the advice of Premier Raja Pervaiz Asharaf on January 14 on the demand of the Shia Hazara community after twin bombings claimed over a hundred lives in Quetta’s Alamdar Road neighbourhood.
However, Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani pointed out that by invoking Article 234 of the Constitution, President Asif Ali Zardari dismissed only the chief minister and his cabinet. The provincial assembly is still functional since constitutionally, another presidential proclamation is needed to suspend the assembly, Kanrani told The Express Tribune.
JUI-F’s Maulana Sherani told the news conference that the provincial government was punished for resisting pressure from certain quarters on the Reko Diq project. The security situation has been fluid for quite some time – and it was used as a pretext to dismiss the Nawab Aslam Raisani-led government.
He warned that if the president did not lift governor’s rule by January 20, all coalition parties would launch a massive protest movement in the province.
Unveiling the protest schedule, he said that a shutter down strike would be observed on Jan 25 and a wheel-jam strike on February 1. “We also plan on jamming the [Quetta] airport and railway system if our demand is not accepted,” he said.
Asked if they plan to mount a legal challenge against the imposition of governor’s rule in the Supreme Court, the JUI-F leader said there was little time for a legal battle because the government was to complete its constitutional tenure this spring.
BNP-A leader Asad Baloch rejected governor’s rule, saying that the provincial government was dismissed “unconstitutionally”. He claimed that the move would not help improve security in the volatile province.
Referring to the January 10 twin bombings in the Alamdar Road bombing, Baloch said he sympathised with the Hazara community. In the same breath, however, he asked, “Why does the government keep mum on the killing of innocent people in military operations?”
“The government does not see the bullet-riddled corpses of missing persons which continue to be dumped,” he said, adding that due to one incident the provincial government was sacked “which is unconstitutional”.
If PPP’s Deputy Parliamentary Leader Ali Madad Jattak is to be believed all but two PPP lawmakers – Sadiq Umrani and Jan Ali Changezai – support the call for lifting governor’s rule in Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.