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Pointless exercise


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THE parliamentary committee tasked with formulating and laying the legislative groundwork for a new province — a legitimate, longstanding demand of the Seraiki-speaking people — in south Punjab is patently an election-year gambit in which politicians are playing politics and trying to manipulate the emotions of voters. With the PML-N boycotting the parliamentary committee and the Punjab Assembly, whose assent is required for carving up Punjab, opposed to debating the bifurcation of Punjab while leaving other provinces untouched, the parliamentary committee’s recommendations are likely to go nowhere soon. In that milieu, it was almost inevitable that the committee’s proceedings would lead to peculiar recommendations. And so on Saturday the committee approved the draft of a constitutional amendment for the creation of the ‘Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab’ province — and included within its limits the districts of Mianwali and Bhakkar.

The decision came as a shock to some in Mianwali, who immediately took to the streets to stage protests and denounce the parliamentary recommendation apparently taken without any meaningful input from the representatives of the two districts. If Mianwali and Bhakkar can be clubbed into a south Punjab province for whatever reasons, then why keep out D.I. Khan? Sometimes politicians looking to gain an electoral edge can be too clever by half, and end up creating more of a mess without even necessarily gaining any electoral advantage. Another indication that the committee has failed to evolve a workable consensus on the basic building blocks of a new province is the dithering over whether Bahawalpur or Multan will be the new capital — or perhaps both.

All of this will only give the PML-N, perhaps the PTI too, more reason to cry foul and push back harder against the PPP–PML-Q combine in the province. The leader of the opposition Nisar Ali Khan took to the airwaves to issue a robust condemnation of the parliamentary committee’s proposals and the back-and-forth is only likely to grow louder in the days ahead. Lost in all of this is the raison d’être of new provinces: bringing government closer to the people so that it can be more effective and accountable. Activating local governments would in fact make the most sense to help achieve that goal but it happens to be the very thing politicians resist most. Instead, they are busy recommending there be 23 new senators, a governor, a chief minister and an assortment of ministries — all of which means more posts to accommodate more politicians. Instead of catering to a genuine demand, the debate is becoming pointless and controversial. Sadly, it is here to stay.

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Comments (11) Closed

M. Asghar Jan 28, 2013 10:51am
When the situation is messy, it is dreadful to see the people responsible for this situation making the things even messier.
Marina Jan 28, 2013 04:27pm
Pakistani nation is sick of all this democracy drama and military dictatorship. Leave us at our own.
ali ahmed Jan 28, 2013 05:00pm
democracy should go to grass root and previous system of LB should be reactivated..but parliamentarian are afraid that they will loose the development funds and job quota..which is the source of corruption
Safeer Hussain Jan 28, 2013 05:22pm
In Pakistan, politics, political moves and decisions, and the oppositions that followed these decisions has always been a pointless and meaningless exercise. The political parties have never wished or tried good for the country or its masses, rather they have been carving out benefits for themselves. But it is the masses who select them and keep on doing so for years; yet always wailing and complaining. Socrates had rightly said, "Like people, like government."
Hassan Jan 28, 2013 08:06pm
It seems you are for the new province but against the politicians who may run it, if only partly. Local bodies is a recipe offered, rather imposed on us, by dicators and your support for it seems to be contrary to lessons of history.
mohmmad Jan 29, 2013 10:47am
mr. president from day one came with a sole aim to divide punjab and nomination of Gilani was a first step to carry out his task secondly MQM with his own hidden agenda to divide sindh later is a no secret. Nobody is against to have more provinces but must be made on some principal or criteria otherwise we go in to deep messy situation. i wonder when they want to create province from Punjab no issue but soon you start any talk for to have province in Sindh people are ready to fight...i do not understand the logic? similar apply to Khyber pukhtoon what about the Hazara. Dear leaders , please do not bring more misery to people they are already unable to secure 2 time meal for their children's or educate them and medical treatments 3 patients on one bed. We first need your action on these issue not on provinces.
Ahmed Jan 29, 2013 03:11am
This deliberate complication added during election time by PPP is typical of the dirty tricks with which Zardari came to power and has kept into power - all the time failing miserably on the primary job of government which is to provide security and economic well-being to the people.
Khawar Mehdi Jan 29, 2013 04:30am
Yes it is politics which is what politicians supposed to do .. NO?
Vision Jan 29, 2013 04:46am
Walayat Malik Jan 28, 2013 02:01pm
Creation of ONE new province and thus have 5 provinces for a population of 180 million people is purely thoughtless and visionless. Consider Turkey- a prosperous Muslim country- that has 81 provinces for a population of 75million. The media and our intellectuals do not point it out. It is so so sad and regrettable.
Husain Jan Jan 28, 2013 07:21am
Pointless exercise ? Well, this is exactly we - the masses- have been witnessing day in and day out during this five year term of the present govt. Very regretful but not surprising at all as nothing good or concrete for the betterment of the country or its masses was never expected. Let them boast and celebrate to have completed the full term and leave the scene for good.