LAHORE, Jan 19: As Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood on Saturday announced tabling a resolution for the restoration of Bahawalpur province in next week’s National Assembly session, Pakistan People’s Party legislators from south Punjab have vowed to block the move.
The governor’s intention has brought him and the PML-N on ‘same page’ as the latter had tabled the restoration of Bahawalpur province in the Punjab Assembly to check the PPP’s effort to carve out Seriaki province (south Punjab).
The PPP legislators from south have vowed not only to block any such move (either of the governor or PML-N) to restore Bahawalpur state/province but also not give in their demand for Seriaki province come what may. But as the governor from PML-F enjoys full backing of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani who hails from Multan (south), infighting among the PPP ranks over the issue seems to have begun.
In the face of a parliamentary commission on new provinces, which has yet to complete its work, the governor’s announcement of tabling the resolution in the National Assembly sets off a new controversy.
“A resolution to restore Bahawalpur province will be tabled in the National Assembly’s forthcoming session. The restoration of Bahawalpur province will help address the problems and poverty of the people living there,” Governor Mahmood said while chairing the core committee meeting of Bahawalpur division here at the Governor’s House here on Saturday.
Mr Mahmood said if Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions were added to Bahawalpur province it would be more beneficial for all. The meeting also thanked the president, the prime minister, the National Assembly, Senate and the political parties for “their support in this regard”.
A PPP legislator wonders as to how the governor or the former premier on their own can announce the party line in favour of restoration of Bahawalpur province. “Even the suggestion to merge the Seraiki belt in the Bahawalpur province is not acceptable to the PPP of the south,” he said and warned its leadership the PPP, PML-Q and PML-N MPAs, MNAs and Senators from the south together would resist any move not to create south Punjab (Seraiki) province.
Another PPP MPA from the south, Nazim Husain Shah told Dawn that restoration of the Bahawalpur state could be a ‘wish’ of the governor as the PPP legislators from the south had not been taken into confidence on this proposal. “We will never budge an inch from our demand of creation of Seriaki province,” Mr Shah vowed. Another major stakeholder and PPP ally, PML-Q, which had tabled first resolution for the creation of the south Punjab, has also not been consulted over the new proposal by the PPP leadership.
A PPP insider said the PPP and PML-N leadership were in contact over the creation of new province in Punjab and it might be possible that a middle way was adopted in this regard because a two-third majority was required for the constitutional amendment to create a new province.
On the other hand, the parliamentary commission headed by Senator Farhatullah Babar has failed to complete its task within the given timeframe. It has reportedly sought more time from the NA speaker to finalise its recommendations regarding creation of ‘one or more’ new federating units through division of existing Punjab province.
The commission members have reportedly decided to hold meetings on a daily basis since Jan 16 so that they can finalise their recommendations for onward presentation to the National Assembly. The PML-N continues its boycott of the commission which was set up in August last.
Senator Babar reportedly said the commission in its 10 sittings had heard the viewpoints of more than 30 experts and stakeholders besides receiving about 1,800 communications through emails, post and fax. The commission had already prepared a summary of the presentations and communications which was being handed over to all the commission members.