One-third of Punjab to make new province

Published Jan 27, 2013 12:07am

Senator Babar, in a briefing for reporters last week, had acknowledged that the new province cannot be carved out without approval by a two-thirds majority in the Punjab Assembly. - File photo
Senator Babar, in a briefing for reporters last week, had acknowledged that the new province cannot be carved out without approval by a two-thirds majority in the Punjab Assembly. - File photo

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary commission approved on Saturday the draft of a constitutional amendment bill seeking creation of a new province to be called ‘Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab’, comprising three southern divisions and two western districts of Punjab.

The proposed province will comprise nearly one-third of the present Punjab in three respects — the number of districts and the number of seats in National Assembly as well as the present provincial legislature.

According to sources in the commission, the bill suggests that the provincial assembly of the proposed province will comprise 123 members — 98 general and 25 reserved seats for women and minorities. It will be represented by 59 members — 47 general and 12 reserved seats — in the 342-member National Assembly.

After creation of the new province through amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution titled ‘The republic and its territories’, the representation of the present Punjab province in the National Assembly will be reduced from 183 to 124 members. The present 371-member Punjab Assembly will be reduced to a 248-member house (198 general and 50 reserved seats).

The changes in the composition of the National and provincial assemblies will be made in the Constitution through amendments to Article 51, which describes the composition of the National Assembly, and Article 106 titled ‘Constitution of provincial assemblies’.

The new province would comprise 11 districts of Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions as well as Bhakkar and Mianwali districts, the sources said.

They said the parliamentary commission had yet to reach a consensus on the capital for the proposed province. A member of the commission said there were equal votes in the panel for Multan and Bahawalpur as capital.

The Parliamentary Commission on Creation of New Provinces in Punjab, headed by PPP’s Farhatullah Babar, is expected to place its report and the draft amendment bill before parliament next week.

However, despite presentation of the report and the draft of the bill, it is unlikely that the proposed province would become a reality because of opposition by the PML-N, the ruling party in Punjab.

Senator Babar, in a briefing for reporters last week, had acknowledged that the new province cannot be carved out without approval by a two-thirds majority in the Punjab Assembly. Even if the National Assembly and the Senate passed the bill with a two-thirds majority, the President cannot sign it to convert it into an act without its passage by the Punjab Assembly.

The PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha, who is also a member of the commission, had said on Thursday that it might suggest ‘twin capitals’ for the province.

Mr Agha had also claimed that it was on the PML-Q’s demand that Bhakkar and Mianwali districts had been included in the new province comprising Seraiki-speaking areas.

The sources said there was a proposal under consideration that the governor’s house and provincial high court should be in Bahawalpur, while Multan could have the provincial assembly, chief minister’s house and secretariat. Moreover, the sessions of the assembly could be held in both the cities.

The commission’s members believe that if these proposals were accepted, they would be able to satisfy those calling for restoration of Bahawalpur province.

The draft also suggests amendment to Article 59 — composition of the Senate where every province has an equal representation.

The Senate consists of 104 members — 23 from each province, eight from Fata and four from Islamabad.

After addition of 23 seats from the new province, the number will rise to 127.

In order to establish the new high court, the commission has suggested amendment to Article 175-A, which deals with the ‘appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, high courts and the Federal Shariat Court’.

The commission has also suggested amendment to Article 218, which deals with composition and functions of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The new province will also be represented by a member in the ECP, raising the commission’s strength to five from the existing four.

After attending the commission’s in camera meeting on Saturday, PPP’s Jamshed Dasti told Dawn that he and other members had signed the draft and the report would be finalised in the next meeting on Monday.

Interestingly, if the unusually long name of the new province is adopted, it will have an embarrassing acronym, ‘BJP’, which is identified with India’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

PML-N STAYS AWAY: The main opposition party in the centre and the ruling party in Punjab, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, has been boycotting the commission’s proceedings and declared that it will not accept the recommendations, accusing the PPP of bulldozing the parliamentary process required for creation of new provinces just to gain political advantage during the coming general election.

The commission had become controversial since its inception as the PML-N objected to its composition as well as its focus on one province.

The PML-N supports creation of Bahawalpur and Seraiki provinces and wants a national commission to take up demands for carving out new federating units out of other provinces as well, particularly the Hazara province out of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The 14-member commission was formed by the National Assembly speaker on Aug 16 last year in pursuance of a message received from President Asif Ali Zardari and authorisation by the house on July 11.

Her announcement named 12 members only, drawn from the two houses of parliament, and said two members would be nominated by the Punjab Assembly’s speaker.

The speaker of the provincial assembly, a PML-N member, refused to nominate members, putting a question mark on proceedings of the commission. According to some legal experts, it is incomplete and hence cannot function.


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Comments (14) Closed




Malick
Jan 27, 2013 02:33pm
keep going with out stop.
raju
Jan 27, 2013 01:51pm
will the Creation of new state be in peoples interests or politicians?
Tajammal
Jan 27, 2013 01:50pm
Strange! non Punjabies are making decisions about Punjab.
Haider Malik
Jan 27, 2013 01:28pm
Thare should be reconsideration on boundries of new province.Some district are consisted on punjabi as well as Saraike tehsail, public opnion of such area should be seek, in which pronince they want to remain in.People of Jhang and Khushab are facing this dilma.
Cyrus Howell
Jan 27, 2013 01:28pm
New State - Little India, Little Pakistan and South Punjab - where the elite meet to eat.
Malik Awan
Jan 27, 2013 07:46am
Kindly spare the people of Mianwali from South Punjab. I am Malik Awan from Mianwali and we are proud of our History of Potohar regions and Sargodha and we will never ever be a Part of South Punjab. Also Bahawalpur is in South and we are in North and we are closest to Pindi and Lahore then why some Niazis are trying to create rift in this region of Khushab and Mianwali. We Awans of Mianwali and Khushab reject this decision to include us in the new province and we are happy with the existing Punjab with Lahore as its capital as our history states us to be People of Potohar and we are sincere of our land.
Hasan
Jan 27, 2013 07:42am
FarhatUllah Babar is from KPK and MQM is from Karachi. They have no right to decide about Punjab. We people of Punjab have selected PMLN and we will no way accept the decision made by Farhatullah Babar who dont belong from Punjab and trying to divide Punjab for his own Racist Ideologies against Punjabis for a longer time along with MQM.
Stranger
Jan 28, 2013 12:46pm
Yes we need new and smaller states. They are easy to manage.
Junaid
Jan 27, 2013 08:08am
I have no problem in accepting new provinces, only it it solves the sense of sidelining the southern punjab from Lahore politics. But problem is that even governors and PMs belonging to south were not able to address their aggressiveness , how new province will. Why don't people realise that problem is not that province is big, problem is the governance and management. if the management at district level (nazim) is made better, there will be no requirement of making new provinces. Every district can be better managed rather than 2 provinces
Rohan
Jan 27, 2013 10:09am
Though the creation of the new province BJP is beneficial to the country as the administration would be controlled well
ChangaManga
Jan 27, 2013 04:51am
Bravo! It is a good start.
Rehan
Jan 27, 2013 09:36am
i am strongly in favor of new Provinces but it should not be only Punjab. We need to have Hazara, Karachi, Gawadar too and if other's cant be than its not acceptable for us to divide Punjab .
Abid Nazeer Rana
Jan 27, 2013 06:45am
it will be really nice ,of fulfilling demand of people of bahawalpur region,to get their province.but looks ,task is not complete,constitutional hurdles are to be tackled ,intelligently
HNY2013
Jan 27, 2013 07:21am
Pakistan Super League should have a one more team now, i guess :)