Estranged PML-N leader Abdul Qadir Baloch on Saturday announced he has decided to part ways with the party, saying he cannot be part of a group which speaks against Pakistan Army, while Sanaullah Zehri said he has resigned as a member of the party's central executive committee.
“I can never think of staying with a group talking against Pakistan Army,” said Abdul Qadir Baloch, who had retired as a Lt Gen in the army, in a gathering in Quetta of PML-N
Baloch said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had blamed army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for the problems being faced by the country. He added that the former prime minister had said that the decisions of the army chief were unconstitutional.
“By doing so [Nawaz Sharif] is sowing the seeds of mutiny in the army,” claimed the former lieutenant general.
Defending the army, Baloch said that it was because of the army that there was peace in Balochistan, adding that the country is “nothing without the army”.
“Whatever I am, is because of the Pakistan Army. I can't stand the disrespect of the army chief,” said Baloch.
He added that he wants to do politics "with respect" and has the interests of the people of Balochistan at heart.
'Decision taken on October 25'
Baloch, addressing the office bearers of PML-N, said that he had decided to “part ways” with PML-N after the October 25 rally of the Opposition's Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Quetta.
The former federal minister thanked former Balochistan chief minister Sanaullah Zehri for attending the gathering today, saying that he had only invited district presidents of PML-N to today’s meeting.
Talking about Zehri, Baloch said that his son, brother and nephew, had all sacrificed their lives in service of the party's cause, adding that the party had gained 22 seats in the province due to those sacrifices.
“We sacrificed [our] blood for the party that we associated with,” said Baloch. He added that despite having a majority in the provincial assembly, Zehri was deprived of the chief minister’s post.
“We remained silent and remained with the party despite the unfair treatment,” said Baloch.
He also said that Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister did not visit any areas of Balochistan apart from Quetta and Gwadar.
The former federal minister said that Zehri, who is also the chief of the Jhalawan tribe, is his elder. He claimed that the former chief minister was not invited to the PDM gathering on October 25 so that Akhtar Mengal "doesn’t get upset".
“Nawab Sanaullah Zehri was asked not to attend the meeting. I said if chief of Jhalawan will not be in the rally, then neither will I,” said Baloch. He added that he cannot remain part of a party which disrespects Zehri.
"I will no longer have anything to do with PML-N. Whatever decision Nawab Sanaullah Zehri takes is his personal decision," Baloch told the office bearers.
He said that had an apology been issued "then maybe things would have been different", adding: "I decide on the next course of action after consultation".
Baloch said that he will "request Nawab sahib (Sanaullah Zehri) to continue representing his constituency".
'Everyone left due to Nawaz Sharif's betrayal'
Meanwhile, addressing the gathering, Zehri announced he has resigned as a member of PML-N's central executive committee.
He said that it was due to Nawaz Sharif's "betrayal" that "everyone had left the party".
"This is what I said in a call to Abdul Qadir Baloch," said Zehri.
He said that he had his own party of which he was the president. "[The late] Mir Hasil Khan Baloch was with us, but later left to join National Party."
Zehri said that Abdul Qadir Baloch spoke of joining a "national-level party". "No one used to even speak of the PML-N at the time," he said.
He said that in 2013, Nawaz "broke his promise and did not let us form a government in Balochistan".
Zehri said that he got a call saying that Abdul Malik Baloch being made the chief minister. He said that he had remarked at the time that the people of Balochistan would never accept this.
"The status that my martyred children have, ranks far higher than me or Nawaz Sharif," he said, adding: "We were used by Nawaz Sharif for his own gains."
Zehri added that however many army chiefs came and went, "Nawaz Sharif fought with them all".
'Reasons far from the truth'
Responding to the statements by Baloch and Zehri, spokesperson for Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif, Muhammad Zubair, said that the reasons for disagreement with the party cited by the estranged politicians were in stark contrast to reality.
"Qadir Baloch's reason for leaving the party are far from the truth," he said, adding that if Baloch was against Nawaz's statements then he would not have welcomed Maryam in Quetta.
"I, Tallal Chaudhry, and Musadik Malik had met Abdul Qadir Baloch before the PDM's public rally in Quetta," Zubair said, adding: "Qadir Baloch said that he supported Nawaz Sharif's statements about the army."
Zubair said that Baloch wanted Zehri to come on stage, however, BNP-M's Akhtar Mengal had raised objections over it.
"Mengal and Zehri have a personal enmity," he said, adding that had Zehri been on the stage, then Mengal would not have attended the rally.
The former Sindh governor said that the party leadership did not want to create a divide within the PDM.
'Destroyed his political career'
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Qadir Baloch has "destroyed" his political career by taking the step to leave PML-N.
"He has hurt his honour and dignity," Abbasi said.
Abbasi also said it is "completely wrong" to link not extending one invitation to Sanaullah Zehri to PDM's narrative.