Senate elections took place on 5th March and that resulted in increasing the political temperature of the country. Senate elections witnessed some controversies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly, method of voting for FATA senators was changed at eleventh hour and in Balochistan some unexpected candidates won amid allegations of horse trading. At the moment, a tug of war is taking place between PPP and PML-N for the slot of Chairman of Senate. In the best interest of federation of Pakistan, Next chairman of Senate should be form Balochistan.
Senate is the upper house of Parliament in bicameral system. In this house equal representation is given to all the federating units irrespective of their population. Due to radical differences in population of federating Units, the importance of Senate increases multifold in case of Pakistan. Chairman of the senate is the office bearer who runs the senate. He also has the privilege to take charge as acting President when President of Pakistan leaves country on official or private business.
In Past, office of chairman of senate has been occupied by s from all provinces of Pakistan except Balochistan. First chairman of Senate Khan Habibullah Khan (1973-77) belonged from KP, second chairman Ghulam Ishaque Khan (1985-88) also belonged from KP, Third chairman Wasim Sajjad (1988-99) belonged from Punjab and fourth Chairman Mian Mohammad Soomro (2003-09) belonged from Sindh. Fifth chairman was Farooq H. Naek (2009-12) he also belonged form Sindh and lastly the most recent and 6th chairman of senate was Nayyer Hussain Bokhari (2012-15) and He belonged form Islamabad. Since its inception in 1973, Office of chairman senate has not been occupied by any senator from Balochistan and it needs to change this time.
Balochistan has been left out of the federation of Pakistan due to the dictatorial policies of past rulers of Pakistan. This has resulted in five insurgencies against the federal government of Pakistan. Since the democratic transition of power in 2008, there has been a slight improvement in attitude of federal government towards Balochistan. In such a scenario, electing a senator of Balochistan to the prestigious office of Chairman Senate would be a giant leap in integrating Balochistan into federal power structure. Those in corridors of powers must not waste this golden opportunity.
At the moment PPP and PML-N are in a state of war to get their men elected for the top slot in Senate. PPP and PML-N are knocking the door of the political opportunists and requesting their support. In such a situation, both of these parties would not hesitate to support a senator outside of Balochistan, if it works well for their political machinations. At this juncture, PPP and PML-N need to set their petty politics aside and think about the bigger picture about integrating Balochistan in Federal structure.
Name dropping about any possible candidate of chairman senate from Balochistan would not be suitable for this editorial. However, any candidate that might be chosen for the office of chairman senate from Balochistan needs to be experienced, aware of tricks of the trade, widely respected and should not have a controversial past. Electing a clean character senator form Balochistan would serve the purpose well.
Electing chairman senate from Balochistan should be a good beginning but it’s not enough to address the grievances of people of Balochistan. A lot needs to be done in this regard and people from Balochistan need to be put in decision making positions at the federal level. It would be totally naive to believe that by awarding the office of chairman of senate to Balochistan, political leadership of Pakistan would absolve itself from its responsibilities towards Balochistan.
The Balochistan Point
Published in The Balochistan Point on March 9, 2015