Editorial: Significance of Hasil Bizenjo as Ports and Shipping Minister

On 20th May, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, President of National Party (NP) took oath as Federal Minister and was awarded with portfolio of Ports and Shipping. He became the second Federal Minister from Balochistan in Cabinet of Nawaz Sharif after Lt. Gen (R) Abdul Qadir Baloch. Hasil Khan’s getting this ministry is important on two counts; one Balochistan has got another ministry in federal cabinet and secondly a Baloch nationalist politician has been given a very crucial ministry. This decision of Nawaz Sharif is really commendable and needs to be cheered and appreciated.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the hottest topic everywhere in the country and its success is subject to Gwadar Port becoming operational. One of the biggest reservations by Baloch nationalists on proposed CPEC project is that Balochistan does not have the control of Gwadar port. Hasil Khan after bagging Ports and Shipping Ministry has effectively become incharge of Gwadar Port. To some extent the concern of Baloch nationalists has been addressed, at least till 2018.
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Every now and then Ministry of Ports and Shipping advertises recruitment of vacancies in Gwadar Port project and often people of Balochistan are excluded from the category of potential applicants. Now with Mr. Bizenjo in charge of the ministry it’s hoped that things can get better. He in his capacity as minister can move a summary to give greater share to people of Balochistan in port jobs or claim special exemption of these jobs from set provincial quota of Pakistan. Similarly, NP President can also ensure that Balochistan gets a fair share in the revenue earned from the Gwadar Port. He can do this either using executive orders or also by moving a summary to Prime Minister for approval.

Hasil Bizenjo as a minister can be used as counter-argument to the claim that people of Balochistan are not getting fair share form CPEC and Gwadar Port

At the same time, this appointment is also used by the Federal government to shift responsibility towards leaders of Balochistan with regard to CPEC and Gwadar Port. After making Hasil Bizenjo incharge of this important ministry, PML-N leaders in Islamabad would argue that a Baloch politician, and that a nationalist, is in charge of Gwadar Port and He is making the decisions not we. Hasil Bizenjo as a minister can be used as counter-argument to the claim that people of Balochistan are not getting fair share form CPEC and Gwadar Port. This line of argument is not new and PML-N leaders have used it in recent past. After making Dr. Malik Baloch Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan they used to say that Balochistan is ruled by a Baloch nationalist and Federal government can’t be blamed for deprivation any longer. This was a wrong argument to say the least but it was bought by the common people.

ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain administering the oath of offices to MNA Sheikh Aftab Ahmed and Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo as Federal Ministers in a special ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. INP PHOTO

Hasil Bizenjo is a veteran Politician and has been active in political landscape of Balochistan ever since the death of his Legendary father Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo. Hasil Bizenjo managed to get a Federal Ministry after 27 years of political struggle. He might claim that getting Ministry was not his destiny but everyone knows that it’s the ultimate prize that every politician craves. This prize has put huge responsibilities on the shoulders of Mr. Bizenjo and He can’t get away from them.
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President of NP now has to ensure that people of Balochistan get a decent share in all of jobs of Gwadar port and his ministry. He also needs to get an adequate share of profit for his native province from the revenue of the port. Similarly, he must make sure that Balochistan gets the maximum benefit of CPEC and it’s not left out from the process of infrastructure development. Mr. Bizenjo also needs to convince, pressurize would be too much to ask, the Chinese Port handling company to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Gwadar and other coastal areas. All of these are daunting tasks but he has to achieve them at any cost for Balochistan.

If Hasil Bizenjo ends up being a powerless minister then he should resign rather than enjoying bounties of the minister-ship

Hasil Bizenjo has got the ministry in aftermath of pressure on Nawaz Sharif due to Panama Leaks. There will be a lot of constraints under which he has to operate. Senior Bureaucrats in his ministry might give him tough time using traditional bureaucratic delaying tactics. Still He has to deliver and has no other options. If he ends up being a powerless minister then he should resign rather than enjoying bounties of the minister-ship. If he failed to achieve the aforementioned objectives then the excuse “I was powerless” will not be acceptable to people of Balochistan.
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Adnan Aamir is founder and Editor of Balochistan Voices. He also works as an independent journalist covering politics, economy, and development. He is Digital Security Fellow of Reporters Without Borders 2019. He has also completed Chevening South Asian Journalism fellowship from the University of Westminster in 2018.