ISLAMABAD: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani failed on Tuesday to persuade the JUI-F to reverse its decision of quitting the PPP-led ruling coalition at the centre and also to get a firm assurance that it would not try to topple his provincial government.
The chief minister, who visited the official residence of Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the Minister’s Enclave along with federal Minister for Postal Services Israrullah Zehri, was told by the Maulana in categorical terms that his party’s decision to shift to the opposition at the centre was final and that JUI-F’s provincial chapter would deal with matters relating to Balochistan.
Talking to a group of reporters after the meeting, Maulana Fazl said that he had informed Mr Raisani that the Central Working Committee (CWC) of his party would meet in Islamabad on Wednesday to review the situation and take a decision about the Balochistan government.
He said his party had not yet decided to act against the PPP-led provincial government. He, however, confirmed that PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had discussed the matter with him.
He said that JUI-F’s provincial chief Muhammad Khan Sheerani and parliamentary leader in Balochistan Assembly Maulana Abdul Wasay would be attending the CWC meeting and brief it on the political situation in the province.
Mr Raisani said he faced no threat to his government, adding that he lived in his own house and would continue to live there even if he was ousted.
The JUI-F has 10 seats in the Balochistan Assembly and if it joins hands with 19 members of PML-Q and Like-Minded Group, it can easily topple the government led by PPP which has 14 seats.
It is interesting to note that out of the 64 members of the assembly, 61 sit on treasury benches and 47 of them are ministers and advisers.
The JUI-F has already applied formally for allocation of seats on opposition benches in the National Assembly and Senate.
Maulana Fazl was assisted in talks by JUI-F Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and former minister Azam Khan Swati.
It was the fourth attempt by the PPP in a week to persuade the Maulana to bring the JUI-F back into the government fold. However, it could not be ascertained if Mr Raisani had met Maulana Fazl on the directive of the PPP leadership or he had come to see him on his own, fearing threats to his government.
Earlier, Minister for Labour Syed Khurshid Shah and Interior Minister Rehman Malik had made separate attempts to persuade the Maulana to reverse his decision. Even President Asif Zardari failed to woo the JUI-F chief in a two-hour meeting that followed the official dinner he had hosted for the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Saturday.
The JUI-F announced to quit the 33-month-old coalition government when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sacked Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi of PPP and Science and Technology Minister Azam Khan Swati of JUI-F for violating discipline and issuing statements against each other on the issue of alleged corruption and mismanagement in Haj affairs.
Meanwhile, sacked minister Azam Swati on Tuesday reiterated his charges of huge corruption in Haj affairs and claimed to have acquired more evidence to prove his allegations. Talking to reporters, he said, he would present the proofs before the Supreme Court.
Maulana Haideri made an interesting comment on the sacking of Mr Swati and said: “The government launched a drone attack on us and we retaliated with a suicide attack.”
Maulana Haideri said that the Wednesday meeting of JUI-F leadership would give a formal approval to the decision of the parliamentary group to pull out of the government.