Aslam Raisani is a prized catch for the JUI-F; he has a bright chance of winning in the 2023 polls and becoming the next CM
Quetta: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazal) which has always been a second partner in the ruling coalition in Balochistan, seems to have kicked off its election campaign by bringing in a number of electables to its ranks including the former Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and other ex-provincial ministers.
Aslam Raisani is, indeed, a prized catch for the JUI-F considering his standing in the provincial politics and his deep rooted contacts at the right places. He has a bright chance of winning in the 2023 polls, too, and becoming the next CM of the province.
Aslam, who is also the Chief of Sarawan and holding the second highest position to Khan-e-Baloch (Khan of Kalat) in the tribal hierarchy, previously served as Chief Minister Balochistan (2008-2013) in the PPP government.
His father, late Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani, was the former federal minister and ex-Governor Balochistan. He was an integral member of the PPP and was a close friend of late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Ghous was later killed in a tribal dispute in 1987 between his tribe and the Rind tribes and for that Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind, the chieftain of Rind tribe and a former federal minister, was accused for his murder.
Earlier, Esa Khan Kalohi (Rind), a tribal notable, was killed along with some of his tribesmen over a petty issue during the local bodies elections in mid-1985. Rind accused the Raisanis for that murder and the dispute severely affected the political atmosphere of the entire province.
The 35-year-old dispute have seen no less than two hundred people, including the head of the tribe and other prominent personalities, getting killed.
While numerous efforts have been made from time to time for the reconciliation of the two warring tribes, the massive tribal egos have always become a major hurdle in the process of burying the hatchet.
Once during a major reconciliation effort, hundreds of tribal Sardars of Balochistan as well as Sindh and Punjab took Mehr (tribal Jirga, usually taken to the aggrieved parties for reconciliation) to Raisani family in Sarawan House, Quetta.
However, instead of responding positively to the great gesture, Nawab Aslam Raisani, the head of the tribe, avoided meeting the tribal Jirga and in the end his younger brother Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani met the tribal elders and sought time to ponder upon the reconciliation move.
But all those efforts proved futile as the Raisanis never agreed to the reconciliation idea. It may be mentioned here that Nawabzada Aminullah Raisani, the elder brother of Nawab Aslam and Mir Wadood Raisani, a close relative, have already been reconciled with Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind in the presence of Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Dawood in Kalat place in early 2000. However this reconciliation didn’t get any endorsement or approval from the Raisani tribe on larger scale.
Before joining the PPP, Aslam Raisani and his brother Haji Lashkari along with hundreds of his tribesmen remained members of the Pakistan National Party of Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bezenjo. Later, however, they joined PPP in 1992 and remained with the party till 2012.
Lashkari, who was a PPP senator, resigned from the upper house after developing the differences with the then President and party head Asif Ali Zardari. Consequently, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam’s government was sacked in 2012 and was followed by enforcement of Governor rule in Balochistan in the wake of a suicide attack in Quetta that claimed the lives of over 90 people from the Hazara tribe.
Hundreds of people belonging to the Hazara’s Shia community placed the 92 bodies of slained victims on the highway and demanded the sacking of the provincial government. Chief Minister Raisani, who was in London with his family at the time, refused to rush back for holding negotiations with the protestors.
Ultimately, the then Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf along with Interior Minister late Rahman Malik air dashed to Quetta and persuaded the protestors to bury their bodies. Immediately afterwards, they imposed the Governor Rule by dismissing the Raisani led coalition government.
Later, the JUI being the largest parliamentary group influenced the PPP government to allot important portfolios and decision-making powers to the party, including the office of Speaker Balochistan Assembly.
Nawab Aslam, in a bid to save face, claimed that his government was dismissed because he had refused directions from Asif Ali Zardari to sell out the Reko Diq project (with huge copper-gold resources) on throw away.
Aslam Raisani then quit the PPP and didn’t take part in the 2013 elections. In 2018 polls, however, he ran independently and won with the support of Balochistan National Party-Mengal Group and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam. But despite his victory, he preferred to sit on the opposition benches during the Jam Kamal government.
The situation has changed quite a bit now and Raisani is fully supporting the Qudoos Bezeno-led government along with JUI members in the province.
The electables who have joined the JUI-F recently include former provincial ministers Mir Zafar Zahri, Ghulam Dastagir Badini and Mir Amanullah Notezai besides Haji Qayum Kakar, Azeem Kakar and Sardar Zafar Gitchki. Zafar Zahri is the younger brother of former Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zahri and was a minister in the Nawab Raisani government.
Also joining is Aman Notezai, who lost his seat in 2018 for the first ever time while contesting from the Chaghi area, and a new entrant Badini who last won a provincial seat from Noshki. According to reports, more notable personalities are likely to join JUI-F in the coming days while more and more people in the province are getting convinced that the party could emerge as the single largest parliamentary group and could surely form a coalition government in the province.
In Balochistan any political party which gets 16 seats out of a total of 51 in direct elections can form its government with the support of independents and small parliamentary groups who are always ready to join the band wagon.
The Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) which bagged 16 seats in the 2018 elections have a strength of 24 after 10 independents also joined the group.
The JUI-F has always been the part and parcel of the ruling coalition in Balochistan, enjoying lucrative portfolios since the creation of the province except during the governments led by Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi in 1992, by Dr. Malik Baloch in 2013 and by Jam Kamal in 2018. However, they have failed to form the government entirely on their own.
It never succeeded to form its government in Balochistan for two reasons, firstly for not having the backing of “Islamabad” for that purpose and, secondly for not having a suitable Baloch candidate in its ranks.
Baloch ethnic group dominates the Balochistan Assembly and subsequently a Baloch member is chosen for the office of Chief Minister. Although Senator Ghafoor Haideri, the secretary general of the party, used to claim before the 2018 elections to have a definite clearance from Islamabad for the office of Chief Minister, he lost the elections.
This time Nawab Aslam Raisani, a suitable candidate, is available for the office of Chief Minister and has a bright chance of becoming the next chief minister after the 2023 general elections.
Though earlier Raisani was the Chief Minister from the PPP side, with JUI as its coalition partner, this time he may lead JUI with his previous party PPP as the coalition partner.
Having said that, the PPP is also striving hard to get some notable electables in its fold for the next elections and aspire to lead the ruling coalition in the province. It is so far not clear whether Balochistan Awami Party which was formed with the only motive to counter Baloch nationalist parties will remain intact or its MPAs and MNAs are allowed or directed to join PPP or left on their free will whatever they would like. In the given situation, Baloch nationalist groups may form a loose electoral alliance to fight JUI or contest the election jointly in seat to seat adjustment arrangement.
Both JUI and BNP were in alliance in 2018 elections and bagged as many as 21 seats in the Balochistan Assembly while the National Party of Dr. Malik Baloch took part in the elections on its own and couldn’t win a single seat.