Provincial Assembly of Balochistan
The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan was established on March 30, 1970, through a Presidential Order following the dissolution of one unit and the declaration of Balochistan as a separate province.
The initial election, held on December 17, 1970, comprised 21 members, with 20 general seats and one reserved for women.
The inaugural session of the Balochistan Assembly, consisting of 21 members, took place on May 2, 1972, at the historic Shahi Jirga Hall (Town Hall) in Quetta.
Muhammad Khan Barozai and Molvi Shams-ud-Din were elected as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively. Sardar Attaullah Mengal served as the first House Leader, and Mr. Ghous Bakhsh Raisani as the Leader of the Opposition. Since then, the Balochistan Provincial Assembly has experienced eleven general elections, growing to its current membership of 65, including 51 General seats, 11 for women, and 3 for minority members.
The current 11th Assembly was established following the General Election on July 25, 2018. In this Assembly, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Sardar Babar Khan Musakhel were chosen as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively. On August 18, 2018, Mir Jam Kamal Khan Aaliyani was elected as the House Leader with 39 votes, defeating Mir Younus Aziz Zehri who secured 18 votes. Malik Sikander Khan Advocate was unanimously elected as the Leader of the Opposition. Later, Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo became the Chief Minister of Balochistan from 29 October 2021 till 18 August 2023.
The foundation of the present Assembly building was laid in 1973 by the then Governor of Balochistan, Nawab Muhammad Akbar Khan Bugti, and it was inaugurated on April 28, 1987, by the then Prime Minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo. The building covers a total area of 12 acres.
The Assembly chamber can accommodate 72 members. There are 25 guest seats in the Governor/Speaker gallery, while 25 seats are reserved for government officials in the official gallery. The visitor gallery has 168 seats for the general public, and 55 seats are set aside for the press and electronic media.
Function of Assembly
The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan plays a vital role in governing the province by:
1. Expressing the collective will of the local populace, with a particular focus on the needs and aspirations of its citizens.
2. Crafting new provincial legislation and modifying existing laws, all aimed at enhancing the welfare of the people.
3. Sanctioning taxes and formulating the provincial budget for each fiscal year.
4. Holding the government accountable and engaging in debates concerning both national and provincial matters.
Since the implementation of the 18th Amendment, the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has gained substantial authority to legislate and make decisions on various issues, excluding those found in the Federal Legislative List. This exclusive list covers topics like Defense, Foreign Affairs, Nationality, Currency, and Nuclear Energy, as specified in the fourth schedule of the Pakistan Constitution.
It’s important to note that the Provincial Government of Balochistan is unable to enact new laws or introduce fresh taxes without first obtaining the Assembly of Balochistan’s approval.
The Modus Operandi of Assembly
Opening Proceedings of the Provincial Assembly
– Oath of Members: Following a general election, the elected members take their oaths during the first assembly meeting. If any members were unable to do so during the initial meeting, they take their oaths when they attend their first Assembly session.
– Election and Oath of Speaker and Deputy Speaker: Apart from the members’ oath-taking, the Provincial Assembly selects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from among its members. In cases where the positions of Speaker or Deputy Speaker become vacant, the Assembly elects another member to fill these roles.
– Governor’s Authority to Convene and Cancel Sessions: The Governor of the Province possesses the power to convene Provincial Assembly meetings and can also postpone or terminate sessions. Additionally, the Speaker can summon a session upon receiving a written request signed by at least a quarter of the total Assembly membership within 14 days of the request’s receipt.
Number of Sessions and Days in a Year:
It is mandated that the Provincial Assembly must hold a minimum of three sessions each year, with no more than 120 days passing between the final meeting of one session and the scheduled commencement of the next.
Duration of the Provincial Assembly:
The term of the Provincial Assembly in Pakistan lasts for five years unless it is dissolved before that time.
Dissolution of the Provincial Assembly:
– Dissolution on the Chief Minister’s Recommendation: The Governor has the authority to dissolve the Provincial Assembly if advised to do so by the Chief Minister. Upon the Chief Minister’s recommendation, the Provincial Assembly can be dissolved within 48 hours.
– Dissolution of the Provincial Assembly on Presidential Advice: The Governor can dissolve the Provincial Assembly if advised by the President. This occurs if the Governor believes that, following a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister, there is no other Provincial Assembly member who can secure the confidence of the majority of Assembly members.
Rules of Procedure
Commencement of a Legislative Session
During the initial meeting of the Assembly following a general election, Members take their oaths before the Assembly. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker preside over the session, but if they are absent, the Governor may appoint a Chairman from among the Assembly Members to preside over the proceedings. Once the Speaker is elected by a majority vote, they assume the role of an impartial overseer of all Assembly activities.
Initiating a Session
– The Speaker selects a panel of up to four Chairmen from among the Members and determines the order in which they would preside in the Speaker’s absence.
– In the event that the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and all Chairmen are absent from a session, the Secretary notifies the Assembly, and the Assembly then elects one of its present Members to chair the session.
A Member can submit a written notice to the Secretary to propose a vote of confidence in the Chief Minister. The notice is circulated to all Members, and the Chief Minister provides consent by signing a statement agreeing to move the resolution. The vote of confidence can take place on any day, even on holidays or non-official days. The Speaker then reports the vote’s outcome to the Governor.
– Similarly, a notice can be given to the Speaker to propose a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister.
– If the resolution is in order, a Member who has signed the resolution introduces it.
– The vote on the resolution must occur not less than three days and not more than seven days from its introduction in the Assembly.
– If the resolution is passed, the Speaker forwards a copy to the Governor.
Number of Sessions and Order of Business
There are four sessions held in the Assembly each year, with each session beginning with a recitation from the Holy Quran. The Speaker has the authority to suspend or call for an additional session if discussions are not adequately concluded or if decisions are made earlier than expected. The Secretary arranges government business in the following order:
– Introduction of Bills
– Bills already introduced
The sequence for introducing Private Bills is determined by a ballot. Bills that have already been introduced are addressed in the following order:
– Bills that are up for passage.
– Bills for which a motion has been carried to consider the Bill as reported by the Standing or Select Committee.
– Bills for which the report of the Standing or Select Committee has been presented.
– Bills for which the report of a Standing or Select Committee is yet to be presented.
– Bills circulated to solicit public opinion.
The order of priority for private resolutions is also determined by a ballot, with unresolved resolutions included in subsequent ballots during the same session. The Secretary compiles a List of Business for each working day for the Members.
The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan possesses the authority to initiate, pass, and amend bills. However, a bill aimed at amending the Constitution cannot be presented to the President of Pakistan for approval unless it is passed by the Provincial Assembly with the support of at least two-thirds of its total membership. The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan also holds the constitutional power to introduce and pass money bills, including the annual budget statement.
Additionally, the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has the authority to propose and pass a motion of no-confidence against the Chief Minister of the province, but only if the majority of voting members support the motion.
A proposal to create a new law must be presented to the Provincial Assembly in the form of a Bill. Bills come in three categories:
1. Government Bills: These are introduced by ministers.
2. Private Member Bills: These can be introduced by any Member of the Assembly.
3. Ordinances proclaimed by the Governor during the Provincial Assembly’s recess. These ordinances are then introduced in the Assembly, where they can be approved, endorsed, or rejected, and sent back to the Governor for final approval.
Every Bill undergoes three key stages:
1. The first reading is a formal stage that may include a general discussion of the Bill, and Members can propose amendments at this point.
2. The second reading involves debating the fundamental principles of the Bill. While it’s possible for a Bill to be rejected, this is less common for Government Bills.
3. In the third stage, the Bill may be referred to one of the Standing Committees by the Speaker. These committees can gather input from Ministers, and experts, and debate the Bill, potentially recommending amendments or even a complete rewrite.
If a Standing Committee doesn’t propose any amendments in their report, the Bill moves to the third reading. However, if amendments are suggested by the committee, they require the approval of the entire Assembly.
Once a Bill is passed in the Assembly, with or without amendments, it is forwarded to the Governor. The Governor has three options within thirty days: granting assent (transforming the Bill into law), withholding assent (vetoing the Bill), except for money Bills, or returning the Bill to the Assembly for reconsideration.
If the Bill is sent back to the Provincial Assembly, it will be reevaluated by the Assembly. If it is passed once again, with or without amendments, through a majority vote of the present and voting Assembly members, it will be presented to the Governor for assent, and the Governor cannot withhold assent at that point.
Any Bill that is pending in the Provincial Assembly will expire upon the dissolution of the Assembly.
The Provincial Assembly handles the Budget through the following steps:
1. A comprehensive debate on the Budget in its entirety.
2. A review of expenses mandated by the Provincial Consolidated Fund.
3. An examination of requests for financial allocations.
4. Casting votes on the proposed allocations.
The general discussion regarding the Budget will be limited to a maximum of four days, with the condition that no more than one day should separate the Budget presentation from the start of this comprehensive discussion.
In its initial session following a general election, the Assembly will elect Standing Committees to serve for the Assembly’s entire term. Each of these Committees will be responsible for overseeing a specific government department, such as Food, Agriculture, Finance, and others. These Standing Committees will assess proposed legislation with the best interests of their respective departments in mind and adhere to the Rules of Procedure for Standing Committees.
– Each Standing Committee will comprise seven members chosen by the Assembly and the relevant Minister, who will serve as a member ex officio.
– The Committees will review Bills or matters referred to them by the Speaker or the Assembly and will present their recommendations in a report to the Assembly within the specified timeframe, or an extended period granted by the Assembly.
Role and Purpose
The primary roles of these Committees are as follows:
1. To assist the Parliament in its responsibility of holding the government accountable for its actions.
2. To scrutinize all governmental decisions, considering the public’s needs.
3. To support Ministers in fulfilling their responsibilities and enhancing their management performance. These Committees function not only as oversight bodies involved in policy-making at the highest levels but also as representatives of various political parties, ensuring fair and equitable consideration of these policies.
Qualifications and Disqualifications
A disqualification can occur due to defection, which was incorporated into the Constitution in 1997.
Members’ Rights and Immunities
Provincial Assembly Members have the liberty to express their views openly. No member can be legally challenged or held accountable in a court of law for any opinion they express or any statement they make during Assembly proceedings.
The Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Following the first Assembly meeting after a general election, members take an oath, and then the Assembly proceeds to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
The election is conducted via a secret ballot, and those members who secure the majority of votes from the members present in the House are elected as the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.
Both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker hold office for the same duration as the Assembly itself. They continue in their roles even after the Assembly is dissolved until they are replaced in the subsequent session.
– Resignation or Removal: The Speaker can submit their resignation to the Governor, and the Deputy Speaker can do so to the Speaker. Additionally, they can be removed from office by a majority vote of the total Assembly membership. However, if a resolution for their removal is under consideration, they cannot preside over the Assembly meeting.
– Responsibilities: At the start of each session, the Speaker nominates a panel of up to four Chairmen from among the members to preside over Assembly sessions in order of precedence.
– The Speaker plays a central role in the Assembly and is expected to conduct Assembly business impartially and fairly, acting as an unbiased mediator and managing proceedings in accordance with democratic norms. The Speaker must balance the interests of the ruling party and the opposition.
– Beyond their role in Assembly proceedings, the Speaker also performs administrative and financial functions as defined by the Constitution and rules. These responsibilities include convening sessions, maintaining order, and making decisions, among others.
In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker takes over. If both are absent, the Chairman with the highest precedence among those present presides. If none of them is available, the Assembly may elect a member from those present to chair the session.
The Chief Minister
Once the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are elected, the Assembly cannot conduct any other business until it selects the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister is elected during a special session, convened by the Governor on a date specified by the President. The Chief Minister must secure a vote of confidence from the Assembly within 60 days of taking office.
– The Chief Minister can also be removed by a vote of no-confidence from the majority of the total Assembly membership. A notice for this purpose must be presented to the Assembly Secretary by at least 20 percent of the total Assembly members. The Chief Minister ceases to hold office after the resolution is passed, and they can also resign by addressing the Governor in writing.
– A Cabinet of Ministers, led by the Chief Minister, is formed to assist and advise the Governor in performing duties. The Governor appoints Provincial Ministers based on the Chief Minister’s advice. A Minister can also resign or be removed from office by the Governor on the Chief Minister’s recommendation.
Leader of the Opposition
The Opposition within the Assembly plays a crucial role in the democratic process. Members of the opposition, who offer an alternative perspective to the ruling party, are guided by the principles upheld in the Constitution. The Member chosen to represent and articulate these opposing views is known as the Leader of the Opposition.
While the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan do not outline specific processes for electing the Leader of the Opposition or defining their powers and duties, certain functions have naturally evolved and been accepted as part of Assembly procedures over time.
The parliamentary opposition bench serves the following functions:
– Participating in Assembly deliberations.
– Presenting opposing views when government policies are seen as against the public’s best interests.
– Challenging the Government through facts and arguments to amend policies that do not serve the public well.
– Creating a platform for public dissent against the government’s direction through Assembly discussions.
– Proposing alternative programs that, in the Opposition’s view, would better serve the public.
– Influencing legislative decisions by suggesting amendments to legislation.
– Serving as a counterpoint to government policies, providing oversight and different perspectives that benefit the electorate.
Political, Constitutional Developments in Balochistan
Balochistan is a region with a complex political, constitutional, and historical development, marked by a long history of struggle for autonomy and self-determination. The region was spread across three countries: Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, each with its own unique political and historical context.
1. Ancient History: The history of Balochistan dates back to ancient times when it was inhabited by various indigenous tribes. The Baloch people, the region’s namesake, have a distinct culture and language and have lived in the area for centuries.
2. Colonial Era: During the 19th century, the British Empire extended its control over parts of Balochistan. The region was divided among various tribal leaders and the British, leading to political fragmentation.
3. Post-Partition (1947): After the partition of India in 1947, the princely state of Kalat (a part of Balochistan) became an independent state. However, in 1948, Pakistan’s military intervened, leading to the annexation of Kalat into Pakistan. This event laid the foundation for Baloch nationalist movements.
Political and Constitutional Development in Pakistan:
1. Balochistan in Pakistan: Balochistan became a province of Pakistan after the merger of Kalat in 1948. Over the years, Balochistan’s political landscape has been marked by tensions between the central government and Baloch nationalists.
2. Baloch Nationalism: Baloch nationalist movements have sought greater autonomy or even independence from Pakistan. These movements are often rooted in grievances related to economic exploitation, human rights abuses, and a perceived lack of political representation.
3. Constitutional Changes: The Pakistani government has attempted to address Baloch concerns through various constitutional changes and agreements, such as the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package in 2009. However, many Baloch nationalists remain dissatisfied, arguing that these measures do not go far enough in addressing their demands.
4. Security Concerns: The region has also witnessed ongoing conflict and security issues, with both militant and non-militant Baloch groups clashing with the Pakistani state.
Political and Constitutional Development in Iran:
1. Iranian Balochistan: In Iran, the province of Sistan and Baluchestan is home to a significant Baloch population. The region has experienced underdevelopment and political marginalization, leading to occasional unrest and insurgency.
2. Political Struggles: Baloch nationalists in Iran have also called for greater political representation and autonomy. The Iranian government has, at times, responded with repression.
Balochistan’s political, constitutional, and historical development is marked by a complex interplay of regional and international factors. The region’s desire for greater autonomy and self-determination continues to shape its relationship with the countries in which it is located. Balochistan remains a region of concern due to ongoing conflicts and political tensions, and its future development is closely tied to the ability of the respective governments to address the grievances of the Baloch people while maintaining the territorial integrity of their nations.
Balochistan after One-Unit
The political history of Balochistan after the formation of the “One Unit” in Pakistan in 1955 is characterized by significant turmoil, challenges, and conflicts. The “One Unit” policy was an administrative restructuring that merged the four provinces of West Pakistan into a single entity, effectively diluting the political autonomy of Balochistan. This move had a profound impact on the region’s political landscape. Here is an overview of the political history of Balochistan in Pakistan after the implementation of the “One Unit” policy:
1. Opposition to “One Unit” Policy (1955-1970): Balochistan vehemently opposed the “One Unit” policy, which they saw as a means of centralizing power and marginalizing their political representation. This led to a series of protests and conflicts.
2. The 1958 Military Coup: The military coup of 1958, which brought General Ayub Khan to power, further exacerbated Balochistan’s grievances. The military government imposed its authority on the province and attempted to suppress dissent.
3. First Baloch Insurgency (1963-1969): Balochistan saw its first insurgency during this period. Baloch nationalist leaders, such as Nawab Nauroz Khan and Khair Bakhsh Marri, led the movement. The conflict resulted in casualties and unrest.
4. Dissolution of “One Unit” (1970): In 1970, following a nationwide political upheaval and general elections, the “One Unit” policy was dissolved, and Balochistan was reinstated as a separate province.
5. Second Baloch Insurgency (1973-1977): Despite the end of the “One Unit” policy, Balochistan experienced another insurgency during this period, with various nationalist groups demanding greater political autonomy and a fair share of resources.
6. 1980s and 1990s: The political situation in Balochistan remained tense, with sporadic incidents of violence and unrest. Baloch nationalist groups continued to demand their rights and autonomy.
7. Post-2000 Political Developments: Balochistan continued to experience periods of unrest, insurgency, and military operations in the 2000s and beyond. The killing of nationalist leaders like Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 led to intensified conflict.
8. Development Projects and Economic Grievances: Balochistan’s underdevelopment and the perceived exploitation of its resources by the central government have been central issues in its political history. Projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have also been a source of contention.
9. Balochistan Provincial Autonomy: The provincial government of Balochistan gained more autonomy under the 18th Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution in 2010, which devolved powers to the provinces. However, Baloch nationalists argue that this autonomy is still insufficient.
10. Ongoing Challenges: Balochistan continues to face challenges related to governance, economic development, security, and political representation. The region remains a focal point of tension between the central government and Baloch nationalists.
The political history of Balochistan after the “One Unit” policy is marked by a recurring cycle of unrest, insurgency, and government efforts to address Baloch grievances. The province’s political landscape remains complex, with a desire for greater autonomy and equitable resource-sharing at the core of many of its challenges and conflicts.
List of Chief Ministers in Balochistan
Here is a list of Chief Ministers who have served in the province of Balochistan, Pakistan:
1. Sardar Ataullah Mengal – 1972 to 1973
2. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti – 1988 to 1989
3. Khair Bakhsh Marri – 1997 to 1999
4. Jam Yousaf – 1999 to 2002
5. Jan Mohammad Jamali – 2002 to 2007
6. Nawab Mohammad Aslam Khan Raisani – 2008 to 2013
7. Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch – 2013 to 2015
8. Nawab Sanaullah Zehri – 2015 to 2018
9. Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo – 2018 to 2018
10. Jam Kamal Khan – 2018 to 24 October 2021
11. Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo- 29 October 2021 to 18 August 2023
12. Ali Mardan Khan Domki- 18 August 2023 (Caretaker)