At least 30 “electables” from Balochistan on Tuesday joined the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) after meeting with Nawaz Sharif in Quetta, as the former prime minister continues to prepare his party for the general elections due for Feb. 8, 2024.
The PMLN’s new entrants hail from several parties, including the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP); the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI); the National Party (NP); and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M).
Among the politicians who have shifted allegiance to the PMLN are Sardar Fateh Mohammad, Mujeebur Rehman Mohammad Hasni, Mir Saleem Ahmed Khosa, Mir Faiq Ali Jamali, and Saeedul Hassan. Additionally, Mir Asim Kurd, former chief minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, Mir Dostain Khan Domki, Ghafoor Lehri, Mohammad Khan Lehri, Shoaib Nusherwani, Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, Sardar Masood Khan Luni, Mohammad Khan Toor Utmankhel, Noor Mohammad Dummar, Agha Faisal Ahmedzai, and Rubaba Buledi also joined the party.
Also entering the PMLN’s fold are Mir Khan Mohammad Jamali, Mir Omer Khan Jamali, Sardar Atif Sanjrani, Ashok Kumar, Meena Zeenat Shahwani, Ramin Jan Muhammad Hassni, Sardar Niamatullah; Basant Lal Gulshan, Sardar Ali Haider Mohammad Hasni, Mir Attaullah Buledi, Sardarzada Idrees Taj, Haji Noorullah Lehri, Sher Gul Khilji, Mir Anwar Shahwani, Jaffar Karim Bhangar, Haji Barkat Ali Rind, Malik Shehryar, and Shoukat Bangulzai.
However, the entry to the PMLN of so many ‘electables’ has not been welcomed by everyone. Addressing a press conference in Mithi, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari continued his criticism of the PMLN by recalling that the party had strongly opposed BAP during its time in opposition and he hoped it would not backtrack from this policy. He also “advised” Nawaz to “focus on Lahore,” and not worry about the “1-2 seats” that could be secured from Balochistan.
Ties between erstwhile allies PPP and PMLN have been fraying since the dissolution of the National Assembly, with the PPP accusing the PMLN of replacing PTI chief Imran Khan as the “selected.” However, the party refuses to explain who is doing the “selection,” as it maintains that it has no issues with the incumbent military establishment.
Reportedly, the PMLN leader—accompanied by party President Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Organizer Maryam Nawaz—also met the leadership of several political parties on the first day of his two-day visit to the Balochistan capital, but there was no confirmation of them tying up any electoral alliances. Among the representatives that met the PMLN delegation were members of BAP, BNP-M, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, and NP.
Speaking with media after the meeting, BAP leader Khalid Magsi said it was an informal gathering in which Nawaz was welcomed to Balochistan and shared his views about its development. He said this was merely the first meeting, and future moots would deliberate on potential electoral alliances.
According to a statement issued by the PMLN, Nawaz stressed that the development of Balochistan was very important for his party. “Our government started construction of thousands of kilometers of highways and roads in the province to eradicate poverty,” he said, adding there could be no progress in Pakistan if Balochistan remained deprived.