QUETTA: A new Balochistan-based political party was launched on Thursday comprising the political and tribal elite of the province. Balochistan Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar and former Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Saeed Hashmi announced the launch of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) at a press conference at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Quetta. The party will contest the upcoming general elections with the slogan of ‘Stronger Nation, Unified People’. “The party would be registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan once its officials are elected,” Hashmi told the press conference. “Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar will be the central spokesperson while Shoaib Nosherwani will serve as the provincial spokesperson until the party election is conducted,” he said. A 10-member committee would be constituted to conduct the party election, he said, adding work was underway on the manifesto and constitution of the party. Former provincial ministers Faiq Jamali, Mir Saleem Khosa and other leaders were also present on the occasion. Influential chieftains including Jam Kamal Khan, Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Sardar Saleh Bhootani are part of the new political party. Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo is also a member of the party, which is backed by the six independent senators who were elected in the recent Senate elections, including Sadiq Sanjrai, the new chairman of the Upper House. Speaking to media, Hashmi said that the decision to set up a new party is based on the fact that there was lack of recognition from the leadership of other provinces. “We want to bestow our responsibilities on the young leaders to take our message to the Senate, National Assembly and on international forums,” he said. Hashmi, who had been associated with the PML-Q for most of his political career, said although he has now decided to part ways with the party, “we are not separating ourselves from the mindset of Muslim League.” He said the new party is being launched using Muslim League’s mindset ‘but with a different name’. Anwarul Haq Kakar said that they are expecting members to join the newly formed party soon and shared that their only hope is democracy. “The people of Balochistan will decide who they choose to stand with and the party will not compromise on the rights of the people of Balochistan,” he added. Responding to a question, Kakar said that there have been groupings in political parties on federal and provincial levels but “our aim is to ensure that our political aims are so strong they would not create groupings.” Published in Daily Times, March 30th 2018.