ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement submitted on Monday to the National Assembly secretariat a constitution amendment bill seeking creation of new provinces in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.While the bill specifically mentions Hazara province to comprise six districts of the KP, it suggests that people of 21 districts in south Punjab should decide through a referendum if they want a large Seraiki province or more than one province.
Similarly, the MQM bill suggests referendum in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts of the KP to determine whether the people there want to remain within the present KP administration or join the proposed south Punjab province.
The copies of the (20th Constitution Amendment) bill were distributed among the journalists at a news conference addressed by MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar, Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi and a number of other legislators.
The districts where the MQM has suggested referendum are Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar, Multan, Khanewal, Lodhran, Vehari, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Chiniot, Khushab, Mianwali, Sargodha, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Sahiwal, Pak Pattan and Okara.
The MQM leaders termed the creation of new provinces imperative and warned that a Balochistan-like situation could be created if new provinces were not carved out in the KP and Punjab.
Dr Farooq Sattar said his party did not want Balochistan to become another Bangladesh and south Punjab and Hazara as another Balochistan of present day where people felt alienated and deprived.
Dr Sattar said the MQM had become the first party to take a practical step towards creation of Hazara and south Punjab provinces. He said the MQM had taken the step on the directives of party chief Altaf Hussain after realising the aspirations of the people of these areas.
Dr Sattar, who is also federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, regretted that despite blessed with fertile land suitable for cultivating crops like cotton and sugarcane there was not a single agriculture or engineering university in south Punjab. Similarly, he said, the Hazara division was blessed with high-quality wood and minerals but the resources were being neglected.
Replying to a question, the MQM leader said there was no need for creation of a new province in Sindh.
He stressed the need for a national consensus on the issue and said his party would take up the matter with other political parties.
Talking to Dawn, Haider Abbas Rizvi said his party would try to get the matter on the agenda of the National Assembly during the ongoing session, expected to continue till Friday.
The Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Q have already announced their support for the idea of new provinces whereas the PML-N has so far taken a vague stance. Leaders of the party have stated on a number of occasions that the PML-N is not against the creation of new provinces but these should not be on ethnic and linguistic basis.
Political analysts are of the opinion because of the ambiguous PML-N position on the issue the party failed to regain a provincial assembly seat from Bahawalpur in last month's by-election. It is believed that the new provinces will be the key issue in the next general elections and every party will have to come out with a clear stance, particularly in south Punjab and Hazara areas.