ISLAMABAD, Aug 30: A meeting of the controversial Parliamentary Commission on Creation of New Provinces in Punjab called for Friday morning to draft its rules and for a briefing by the law minister has been cancelled, although the commission’s chairman Farhatullah Babar says it has been postponed.
Official sources gave no reason for the cancellation (or postponement) of the meeting which gave rise to speculations about the future of the commission following its rejection by the Punjab Assembly through a resolution and opposition to it from within the PPP ranks.
Senator Babar told Dawn that the meeting had been put off because “some of its members and perhaps the law minister will not be able to attend it”.
He said the postponement had nothing to do with the PML-N’s opposition or the Punjab Assembly’s resolution, adding that the commission would meet some time next week.
There were speculations in Islamabad that Law Minister Farooq H. Naek might proceed abroad on Friday in connection with some official work relating to the Supreme Court’s directive to the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities by Sept 18 to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari and, therefore, would not be able to attend the commission’s meeting.
When it was pointed out to Mr Babar, he said he was not aware of any plan of the law minister to visit a foreign country.
A source close to the law minister told Dawn that Mr Naek was scheduled to fly to Karachi on Friday afternoon as per routine practice because he usually spent his weekend at home. Before his departure, the source said, the minister was scheduled to attend a meeting on the Balochistan issue as member of a special cabinet committee. Mr Naek was also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, he added.
The parliamentary commission received a jolt on Wednesday when the Punjab Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting it and terming it a violation of the spirit of its earlier unanimous resolutions.
The resolution termed the commission “against the spirit and text of the resolutions passed by the provincial assembly of Punjab on May 9, 2012” and “in conflict with the solidarity of the federation of Pakistan.”
The provincial assembly also asked the federal government to “immediately withdraw the proposed commission and, taking all stakeholders on board and keeping in view national consensus as well as constitutional requirements, form such a representative national commission that enjoys confidence of all national/provincial leaderships”.
The commission, which held its first meeting on Aug 27 and elected its chairman, became controversial since its inception as PML-N, the ruling party in Punjab, objected to its composition as well as its focus only on one province.
PML-N spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid said that after rejection of the commission by the provincial assembly through a resolution, there had been no “legal and moral justification” for the government to continue its meetings. He said the PML-N believed that the commission had no constitutional or legal standing and it had been formed by the PPP only as a ploy to achieve some political objectives before the general elections.
The government’s move to constitute the commission also received criticism from within the ruling PPP. Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani said in a statement that the move would be dangerous for the unity and integrity of the country.
Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro said the formation of the commission without the consent of the respective assembly was a violation of provincial autonomy.
Mr Raisani called for abandoning the move while Mr Khuhro said it would be against the provincial autonomy if the power of creating new provinces was “usurped by the federation”.