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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 692, 15 November 2023

PML-N and Balochistan: Nawaz Sharif’s Quetta Mission



Prominent leaders of Balochistan expressed their interest in joining PML-N

Shamini Velayutham

What happened?
On 14 November, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif met with the delegates of various parties in Balochistan as part of his party's strategy to establish strategic partnerships in every province before the general elections that are scheduled for 8 February 2024. Prominent leaders of Balochistan expressed their interest in joining PML-N and invited Nawaz to become an ally for the forthcoming elections. The invitation comes after PML-N’s senior leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq visit Quetta where he held meetings with prominent figures, including Jam Kamal and Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) who assured him of considering joining the PML-N party.

On 14 November,  30 individuals from the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Balochistan National Party–Mengal (BNP-M), National Party (NP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) joined PML-N.  Notable politicians such as ex-Balochistan chief minister Jam Kamal, ex-federal minister Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hasni, Mujeebur Rehman Muhammad Hasni, Mir Asim Kurd and Mir Dostain Domki have joined the coalition. These electables had been negotiating with PML-N leaders Ayaz Sadiq and Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, who leads the party's provincial chapter, in an attempt to get them to join the party. Nonetheless, the politicians had declared that they would only join the PML-N party in Nawaz Sharif's presence and hence they did so.

What does this political alliance in Balochistan mean to Nawaz?
Before the elections, Nawaz had made significant progress in forging strategic alliances among the provinces. While the major political parties have been competing for Balochistan support, the PML-N emerged victorious, with most of the provinces electable. Nawaz Sharif stated that the "development of Balochistan has always been dear to us." He also listed ongoing infrastructure projects, like the many thousands of kilometres of roads that are in place to improve the province's state of poverty and backwardness.
Nawaz acknowledged the difficulties but reaffirmed his commitment to inclusivity and unity, promising to forge closer ties and work with all parties involved to improve the region. The political leaders of Balochistan conveyed their appreciation for Nawaz Sharif's visit and reached a consensus to promote future political collaboration.

Will PML-N be able to sustain the new coalition in Balochistan?
According to Dawn, formal agreement on creating a unity platform for the province's elections or forming an electoral alliance was not possible. The leader of the BAP announced that future negotiations with the PML-N will center on electoral partnerships. The PML-N president invited them to an "informal meeting," where no election-related decisions were made. The source further informed that the politicians who met with the head of the PML-N talked about the general state of affairs in the nation, especially in Balochistan. The leaders of the nationalist parties expressed their misgivings and anxieties about the problems facing the province and the outcomes of the last election.
On 14 November during a meeting PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on the other hand stated that Nawaz should focus more on Lahore and regain his power. He stated, “My advice would be that he should focus on Lahore and he should try and address the problems there. Maybe that’ll bring better results for him.”

References
“Over 30 key political figures join PML-N during Nawaz's Quetta visit,” The News International, 15 November 2023Saleem Shahid, “Nawaz ropes in over two dozen ‘electables’ Dawn, 15 November 2023
“Bilawal advises Nawaz to ‘focus on Lahore’ as PML-N supremo arrives in Quetta to woo electables,” Dawn, 15 November 2023
Syed Ali Shah, “Nawaz clinches top electables in Balochistan,” The Express Tribune, 15 November

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