Pakistan’s Baluchistan region elects new chief minister amid turmoil

Abdul Qudoos Bezenjo. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Pakistan’s Baluchistan region elects new chief minister amid turmoil

QUETTA: Pakistan’s volatile Baluchistan province elected a new chief minister on Saturday, days after the previous leader was ousted in a blow to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party ahead of the 2018 polls.
Abdul Qudoos Bezenjo, former deputy speaker of the provincial assembly and member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) party, was sworn in as third chief minister in four years in the restive southwestern province.
Resource-rich Baluchistan is plagued by violence, perpetrated by both Islamist militants and nationalist insurgents fighting to keep a greater share of the revenues from gas and minerals in the province. Security has improved in recent years, though militants still carry out attacks.
The province also forms an important leg of the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor of energy and infrastructure projects that China hopes to build as part of its belt and road initiative.
Bezenjo’s ascent to power follows weeks of political infighting which saw provincial lawmakers from the ruling PML-N party rebel to help the opposition call for a vote of no confidence in PML-N’s Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, prompting him to resign in a bitter blow to his party.
The political crisis had been intensified by speculation, widely circulated in media, that elements of Pakistan’s powerful military were behind efforts to destabilize the region and possibly dissolve the assembly ahead of the senate elections due around March, and the general elections in mid-2018.
“This assembly will complete its constitutional term,” Bezenjo said after being sworn in. “And if somebody made any attempt (to dissolve the parliament) I will fully resist.”
The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since independence in 1947, denies meddling in civilian politics.
Bezenjo’s election is seen hurting PML-N’s chances at the nationwide senate elections, with analysts saying the ruling party is now expected to get fewer senators from Baluchistan. In 2015, the vote for members of the upper house Senate was done through secret ballots of provincial lawmakers.


Philippines seizes drugs in upscale area, arrests 4 Chinese

Updated 30 min 11 sec ago
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Philippines seizes drugs in upscale area, arrests 4 Chinese

  • Three Chinese nationals and a Chinese-Filipino man were arrested late Tuesday during “buy-bust” raids
  • The drugs were concealed in tea wrappers similar to those seized in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar

MANILA: Philippine authorities have seized more than 160 kilograms (350 pounds) of methamphetamine concealed in tea wrappers in their second-largest drug haul this year in a sign of how the problem has persisted despite the president’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino says three Chinese nationals and a Chinese-Filipino man, who works as an interpreter, were arrested late Tuesday during “buy-bust” raids in an upscale residential enclave and outside a shopping mall in metropolitan Manila.
Aquino said Wednesday the drugs were concealed in tea wrappers similar to those seized in Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar and indicated an international syndicate was behind the trafficking.
Thousands of mostly poor drug suspects have died in President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs since he took office in mid-2016.