WHEELING and dealing is part of politics the world over. Yet in Pakistan these machinations often devolve into farce. Such was the case on Wednesday, when the Balochistan Assembly adopted a no-confidence motion against speaker Aslam Bhootani in the midst of mounting tensions between Mr Bhootani and the chief minister. In what was supposed to be a secret ballot, several lawmakers could clearly be seen on camera showing their votes to government officials, in an indication of their loyalty to the chief minister, thus making a mockery of the exercise. Some lawmakers have charged Mr Bhootani with creating hurdles in the smooth running of the legislature by not convening the house after it was summoned by the governor. However, the speaker had said he would not preside over the sessions unless the position of the chief minister and provincial government was “cleared” in light of the Supreme Court’s Oct 12 interim order on Balochistan. The apex court had in the order strongly criticised the Balochistan administration for its ineffectual governance, though it stopped short of calling for the government’s exit. It is not clear what Mr Bhootani sought to achieve by not convening the assembly; as custodian of the house he should have carried out his duties instead of interpreting the court’s order.
Having said that, a second vote should now be carried out under democratic norms so that Wednesday’s antics are not repeated. Also, for the sake of democracy the judiciary should refrain from intervening in Balochistan’s legislative and executive affairs and let the provincial lawmakers sort out the muddle. It must be said that the non-seriousness witnessed in the provincial legislature as well as the very public power struggle are perfect examples of what ails Balochistan; the province’s lawmakers are too busy indulging in political infighting to solve the people’s myriad problems.