Performance of Opposition in Balochistan Assembly

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Tahira Khan
Democracy speaks when there is room for all the concerned choices, arising in any civilized and informed society, to be heard at every forum either it is legislation or composition of government or some other platform. People elected representatives can advocate their terms even if they’re not being able to form government and the existence of such a political group in legislature is termed as “Opposition”.
In UK opposition group is called as “Her Majesty’s Opposition” whereas in commonwealth legislatures the term “The Loyal Opposition” is used for the cause. Opposition is a sort of parallel government which doesn’t only question the functional government representatives but proposes alternative options as well and for this they are needed to work twice as hard because of the absence of required resources.
Opposition in Balochistan Assembly
Currently, Balochistan assembly comprises of 64 members with one member being disqualified after elections. Government alliance consists of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Pashtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP), Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM). Their strength in terms of members are 20, 14, 11, 5 and 1 respectively. So, it means out of 64 members, 51 support government.
Molana Abdul Wasay – Opposition Leader in Balochistan Assembly
As far as the opposition alliance is concerned, it consists of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazul Rehman (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan National Party (BNP), Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) and Independents. The number of candidates are 8, 1, 2, 1 and 1 respectively. In response of 51, the opposition is comprising of 13 representatives only.
Analysis of Performance of Opposition
In this report, parliamentary year of 2015-16 has been chosen for analyzing the performance of opposition members of Balochistan Assembly. Reports compiled by Open Parliament and records of Balochistan assembly have been used for this analysis.
In year 2015-16, ten sessions with forty-six sittings of Balochistan assembly were held which lasted over ninety-five hours and twenty-eight minutes.
Attendance of government members seems more satisfying as compared to opposition. The PkMAP’s parliamentary leader Abdul Rahim Khan leads in attendance among the parliamentary leaders with being present in 37 sittings followed by both the Zamrak Khan of ANP and Jaffar Khan Mandokhail of PML who attended 29 sessions.
The attendance of parliamentary leaders both the JUI-F and BNP is very weak in this regard. Parliamentary leader of BNP Sardar Akhtar Mengal did not attend a single session in the year 2015-16.

Parliamentary leader of BNP Sardar Akhtar Mengal did not attend a single session in the year 2015-16

In assembly government oversight is ensured by asking questions and moving Adjournment Motions (AMs). The statistical data shows that eleven legislators took part in asking questions out of which seven were from opposition benches. Opposition members asked 151 questions out of 161 which were based on bringing advancement in different sectors.
Akhtar Mengal in Balochistan Assembly
Adjournment Motions are moved to defer the routine proceedings of assembly and debate on a matter of public importance. A total of 23 lawmakers participated in the debates following the Adjournment Motions out of them only 5 were from opposition.
Let’s move forward to the parliamentary outcomes such as resolutions.
A total of 57 resolutions were tabled in the assembly and 49 members of assembly took part in the debates. A large chunk of participants is from the governmental parties i.e., PML-N (17), PkMAP (15), NP (8), PML (3). Only 6 opposition members participated in the debate on resolutions.
The top five members who sponsored resolutions belong to the government side i.e., all are from PkMAP.
The next step deals with Order and Institutionalizations such as Point of Orders which are related to interpretation or enforcement of assembly rules to regulate the business of the assembly. 318 Point of Orders were raised in the given period and only 80 of them were raised by opposition members.
If we put this data to numerical analysis in accordance with the number of members then from the government side, on average, each person has raised 4 Point of Orders whereas from opposition side each one has raised 8 Point of Orders.
Besides, on three out of four occasions, it was opposition which took notice of the assembly failure in maintaining quorum.
Twelve walkouts of opposition has been observed up till now among which only one is considered violent.

Opposition’s performance is less than satisfactory in terms of attending assembly sessions, participating in debates on adjournment motions and resolutions

Conclusion
Based on the analysis of the performance of opposition in Balochistan Assembly it can be concluded that opposition’s performance is less than satisfactory in terms of attending assembly sessions, participating in debates on adjournment motions and resolutions. However they have been good at asking questions, raising Points of Orders and staging peaceful walk outs from Assembly.
Points of View
Agha Hassan Baloch, is the central Spokesman of BNP which is doing active opposition on ground but its parliamentary leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal didn’t attend a single session in 2015-16. He told Balochistan Voices that parliamentary leader of BNP is suffering from different illnesses and was aboard for his treatment during most part of 2015-16 and that’s why he could not attend the sessions of assembly.
“Even when our party members attended assembly sessions then they were not given proper time to speak,” lamented Mr. Baloch. He alleged that current government is not running the affairs of assembly in a serious way and therefore BNP has resorted to active opposition on ground rather than in assembly.

Current government is not running the affairs of assembly in a serious way and therefore BNP has resorted to active opposition on ground rather than in assembly – Agha Hassan Baloch

Haji Saleh Baloch, Member Central Committee of ruling National Party criticized opposition for double standards on their conduct in assembly. “When a middle class person [Dr. Malik Baloch] was Chief Minister, opposition often used to create a scene in assembly and disturb proceedings of assembly but when a tribal chief [Sanaullah Zehri] is CM they are obediently silent,” He alleged.
Sami Zarkoon is convener of Civil Society Balochistan which is a loose coalition of Civil Society Organizations in the province. He is of the view that opposition in Balochistan just waits for its turn in government and has no interest in democratic way of doing parliamentary opposition. “Opposition members of the assembly are interested in attaining development funds for their constituencies,” He alleged.
Shahzada Zulfiqar, veteran journalist and a senior analyst, explained the reasons of behavior of oppositions in Balochistan Assembly. “Sardar Akhtar Mengal does not attend assembly sessions because he wants to avoid a confrontation with his tribal opponent Nawab Sanaullah Zehri who happens to be Chief Minister.” Mr. Zulfiqar said that tribal egos dictate the behavior of most of politicians in Balochistan assembly and not the political dynamics.

Tribal egos dictate the behavior of most of politicians in Balochistan assembly and not the political dynamics – Shahzada Zulfiqar

He added that opposition members of JUI-F and ANP also do friendly opposition because they are getting development funds from government and secondly corruption cases in NAB are also pending against them.
Writer is a team member of Balochistan Voices and a Student of BS (Hons) Political Science in University of the Punjab, Lahore. She hails from Loralai District. Click here to read previous articles written by the author.
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Tahira Khan is a student of BS (Hons) in Political Science from University of the Punjab, Lahore. She is a team member of Balochistan Voices. She belongs to Loralai district of Balochistan.