ISLAMABAD: Creation of Seraiki province is fast turning into a major election issue, as leaders of the two main parties of the country seek to capture seats in the region.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday held in-depth discussions with parliamentarians and ministers from Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. If the proposal for the new province gets materialised, all these regions will be merged.
Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, Minister for Textile Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar also attended the meeting.
According to an official press release, the meeting was meant to focus on the ongoing and new development projects for southern Punjab. It said the government wanted to bring about a major change in the lives of people through a series of development projects in the area.
A participants of the meeting told Dawn, the prime minister had asked party leaders belonging to the area to organise the party’s rank and file because it was foreseeing a cutthroat competition with the rival political party in the region.
He said the prime minister also asked participants to increase the frequency of their visits to their constituencies so that by the next elections the PPP could perform well in the area.
The participant said since the PML-N was running the show in Punjab, the PPP would match its development schemes through federal government-sponsored projects.
The prime minister who in the recent past has inaugurated a number of development projects in south Punjab, according to the release, was keen to see that these deprived areas get the much-needed attention and the people get all modern facilities at their door steps.
He said that his focus was on health, education, water supply, roads and communication networks. He said that measures were also afoot to address the chronic issue of loadshedding.
The parliamentarians discussed with the prime minister possibility of launching new development projects to bring about a positive change in the lives of people.
Most of the projects dealt with construction of new roads and bridges to link the far-flung areas and to shorten distance between southern Punjab and rest of the country.
There was also a demand for swift measures to curb loadshedding and to strengthen existing river banks to protect the people from any flooding.
On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif this Monday formed a 15-member party committee to formulate suggestions relating to demand for new provinces.
Moreover, the Punjab government in this year’s budget has given considerable increase to budgetary allocations for the development of southern Punjab.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also started mobile hospitals in the region. A 40 per cent share has been earmarked for the people from the south in the provincial government’s yellow cab scheme.
Earlier, it was the PPP which announced its plans to support formation of new provinces in the country. Now both the PPP and its new coalition partner the PML-Q supporting the idea, the PML-N is left with no other option but to support creation of new provinces.
With the idea of Seraiki province picking up momentum, both the parties have started paying special attention to the south which in the past had been ignored by the provincial government.