Following a month-long internal debate, the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P-Mengal) has finally decided to return to the parliament. The B.N.P. won only two seats for the provincial assembly in what it now describes as the “most-rigged elections in the history”. Headed by former chief minister and Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal, the B.N.P. had been cogitating for nearly a month what to do with the two seats it won.
When all newly-elected members of the Balochistan Assembly took oath of their membership, the two B.N.P. legislators, Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Hamal Kalmati, did not attend the session nor have they taken the membership oath yet. Because some sections within the B.N.P. were suggesting that they should relinquish even the two seats they had won while, on the other hand, some insisted that resignation from the provincial assembly was not a remedy to B.N.P.’s complaints against the election outcome In the meanwhile, Sardar Mengal, the party head, consulted the party leadership at the district level in order to see what they suggested. Finally, the majority opposed the idea of resignation and voted in support of the parliament.
The two B.N.P. lawmakers will hopefully take oath in the upcoming session. However, the B.N.P. has decided to sit on the opposition benches instead of joining the government headed by a Baloch nationalist leader, Dr. Malik Baloch, although the latter had met Sardar Mengal at his residence in Quetta soon after the elections and sought his support in government formation and resolution of Balochistan’s outstanding challenges.
Historically, Sardar Mengal and his father Sardar Attaullah Mengal, who was Balochistan’s first ever elected chief minister, were natural allies of the nationalist school of thought that is followed by Dr. Malik Baloch and Mahmood Khan Achakzai, chairman of the Pashtunkhawa Milli Awami Party. It is a sad moment in Balochistan’s nationalistic political history that Sardar Mengal is unwilling to extend a hand of amity and cooperation to a government headed by fellow nationalists. The government in Quetta in fact needs Sardar Mengal’s moral support although there is little political support he can offer given his limited influence on and representation in the provincial assembly. Dr. Baloch, the chief minister and the Pashtunkhawa Milli Awami Party, have time and again said they would at least make a genuine attempt to address Balochistan’s problems during their government and they need everyone’s support to achieve that goals. And the B.N.P. is still too agitated to become a part of any such plans.
Before and after the elections, Sardar Mengal has acted selfishly. While sitting in the opposition, the B.N.P. would be required to form partnership with pro-Musharraf parties such as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the Balochistan National Party Awami and the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam. The coalition partners in Balochistan have not distanced themselves form Sardar Mengal but the latter is intentionally opting for isolation and a destructive path which will go down in the history haunting his legacy as a nationalist politician. It is better for the B.N.P. to support Baloch and Pashtun nationalists than sitting on the opposition benches with three political parties that have been blamed for supporting and defending all military operations, human rights abuses and corruption during the two previous governments.
With only two seats in the assembly, Mr. Mengal even has no chance of becoming the leader of the opposition in the Balochistan Assembly. If he still becomes the leader of the opposition with the help of the J.U.I, B.N.P and the P.M.L-Q then that would look as much a favor as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to appoint Dr. Baloch as the provincial chief minister. In a different situation, if the B.N.P. cannot get the leadership of the opposition then it should not disfigure its record as a nationalist party by attempting to destabilize a government headed by nationalist counterparts.
Since the elections, we have been suggesting to the B.N.P., which is Balochistan’s largest nationalist party, to show sportsman’s spirit and concede defeat in the elections. When Sardar Mengal decided to appear before the Supreme Court last year, he was actually the first man who inspired rest of the political parties in Balochistan to prepare for the elections and possible reconciliation in the province. The B.N.P. should now take that process to its logical conclusion by doing a follow-up with the Supreme Court about Mengal’s Six-Points. Mengal’s sitting on the opposition benches will not significantly undermine the chief minister and his government bu it will surely hurt Mengal’s future as a trusted nationalist leader.
The Baloch Hal