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Amid Political Crisis, Chief Minister Of Pakistan's Balochistan Resigns


FILE: Nawab Sanaullah Zehri speaking to the media in Quetta, Balochistan

The chief minister of Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan has resigned amid opposition lawmakers' efforts to oust him through a vote of no confidence.

Hours after Nawab Sanaullah Zehri resigned on January 9, officials said at least six people were killed in a bombing near the province's legislative assembly in Quetta.

Zehri's spokesman, Jan Achakzai, said in a Twitter message that he tendered his resignation to "bring an end to instability" in the resource-rich province.

The move came before lawmakers were expected to table a motion in the provincial assembly to demand a vote to remove Zehri, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

Citing "unfulfilled commitments" by Zehri, 14 members of the provincial assembly filed a motion of no confidence against the chief minister on January 2.

A number of ministers and advisers have also turned dissidents, sparking a series of resignations and sackings.

On January 8, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi traveled to the regional capital, Quetta, to try diffuse the political crisis, which comes ahead of elections to Pakistan's Senate due in March.

Late on January 9, authorities said at least four police officers and two civilians were killed in a bomb blast that hit a police truck in the city.

The bombing, which wounded 17 other people, occurred close to a high-security area where the provincial assembly is located.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a suicide bomber targeted a police contingent returning from duty at the assembly building.

With reporting by Reuters, Dawn, and AP

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