ISLAMABAD, Aug 18: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) rejected on Saturday the parliamentary commission formed by the National Assembly speaker for creation of new provinces in Punjab and said its members would not attend the panel’s meetings until objections raised by the leader of opposition in the house were removed.
“We will not become part of any political game of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on the issue of new provinces and we reject the commission formed by the speaker,” PML-N spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid said when his attention was drawn towards the ambiguous party position on the issue.
Leader of Opposition in national Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had only criticised the speaker for forming the commission without receiving nominations from the PML-N. Talking to reporters on Friday, he had termed the move a “political gimmick” but stopped short of rejecting the commission.
In reply to a question, he said the PML-N did not want de-notification of the commission and only wanted modifications in it.
Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza had constituted the 14-member commission on Thursday and named 12 of its members, including three belonging to the PML-N, surprising the party. Two members are to be nominated by the Punjab Assembly speaker. The commission has been set up in pursuance of a message received from President Asif Ali Zardari and authorisation granted by the National Assembly on July 11.
According to sources, the government plans to call the first meeting of the commission on Aug 28.
After the announcement, several PML-N office-bearers were not aware of who had provided the names to the speaker or the Senate chairman to represent the party in the commission.
It took the party 24 hours to officially declare that the speaker had unilaterally nominated its three legislators as members of the commission without consulting its leadership.
Chaudhry Nisar said if the proposed commission was meant only for the creation of two new provinces within Punjab, the PML-N being the largest party in the province must have 50 per cent representation in it and all the members should be from Punjab.
He questioned the inclusion of MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar, ANP’s Haji Adeel and JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri in the commission, saying the parties had no representation in Punjab.
Talking to Dawn on Saturday, Senator Rashid repeated the demands made by Chaudhry Nisar. He said the PML-N was in favour of new provinces of southern Punjab and Bahawalpur.
He said the PML-N wanted the government to form a national commission that should discuss creation of new federating units in other provinces as well, particularly in areas where local people had been campaigning for the purpose.
He said his party wanted a commission that should also consider creation of provinces in Bahawalpur, Hazara and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
The senator said the demand for south Punjab province had not come from the public but was a part of PPP’s political agenda which was evident from the fact that there had been no celebrations in the area over the announcement of the commission. On the other hand, he said, the people of Hazara had been struggling for their province and had even sacrificed their lives during the campaign.
The PML-N leader said people knew that the government was not sincere in creating new provinces and was using it as a slogan for the next elections.
A resolution adopted by the National Assembly on May 3 had demanded the creation of ‘Janoobi Punjab’ province. Later, a Punjab Assembly resolution called for the creation of Janoobi Punjab as well as revival of the status of Bahawalpur division as a province.