Islamabad: Pakistan's Prime Minister-designate Nawaz Sharif on Monday named a nationalist politician the new Chief Minister of Balochistan in an apparent bid to boost reconciliation in the troubled southwestern province.

Following a meeting with the PML-N's allies in Balochistan, Sharif announced that National Party chief Abdul Malik Baloch would be the next Chief Minister of the resource-rich province that has been hit by the activities of separatist groups. The PML-N has tied up with the National Party to form a coalition government in Balochistan.

Despite being the single largest party with 17 lawmakers in the 62-member assembly, the PML-N decided to give the post of Chief Minister to the National Party, which has only 10 members in the provincial assembly.

Sanaullah Zehri and Jangayz Marri, senior PML-N leaders from Balochistan, had both been lobbying for the post. The process of forming a new government in the province had been deadlocked over the past few days on the issue of choosing a new Chief Minister. The matter was finally decided when Sharif met leaders of the National Party and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party on Sunday.

Sharif convinced PML-N leaders to give up their claim to the post for peace and progress in Balochistan, party sources said. As a further sign of the PML-N's desire to boost reconciliation, Sharif announced that the next Governor of Balochistan would be from the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, which has 14 members in the assembly.

Sharif told the media that despite having emerged as the single largest group in Balochistan, the PML-N had decided to offer the post of Chief Minister to the National Party and other Baloch leaders had accepted this. "I don't believe in politics of power. I want to promote politics of democratic values," he said.

"The PML-N displayed a spirit of sacrifice for the greater interest of the country and the province. The decision was the first step towards restoring peace in Balochistan,” he said. "A strong coalition government will be established in the province that will lay the foundation of a truly democratic Pakistan," Sharif added.


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