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LAHORE: In a move apparently aimed at wooing voters and disgruntled politicians in south Punjab ahead of forthcoming polls, the provincial cabinet headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday decided in principle to revive 20 percent public sector job quota for three southern divisions.

The Punjab government also plans to include residents of two underdeveloped districts of Sargodha division in the employment quota initiative.

Official sources claimed there were many hitches in reviving the job quota for three divisions of south Punjab – Multan, Bahawalpur and DG Khan – besides the districts of Bhakkar and Mianwali.

After the formation of Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM) led by MNA Khusro Bakhtiar that was also endorsed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in the party’s recent public meeting in Lahore, the Punjab government was seemingly pushed to take more initiatives for the welfare and betterment of those living in south of the province.

The 20pc job quota was allocated for south Punjab residents in the 1973 Constitution. However, the PML-N’s Punjab government had suspended the quota in 1997 and since then the people from south Punjab had been competing for public sector jobs on open merit.

Move to also benefit Bhakkar, Mianwali dists

In the Constitution, the 20pc job quota was given for 20 years as a “sunset clause” and was to expire automatically in 1993. The Pakistan Peoples Party government, however, restored quota for another 20 years till 2013, but it was suspended in 1997.

Commenting on the move, an official said it would be very difficult for the government to legislate on the issue and revive the quota. “There are many legal issues that may hinder such legislation,” he said.

In less than 30-minute meeting, the cabinet also approved changing of the Punjab Coal Mining Company name to ‘Punjab Mineral Company’.

About authorising the Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) chairman to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Majelis Ulama Indonesia, the cabinet asked the agency to approach the federal government for final approval as the issue fell in the centre’s jurisdiction. The PHDA certifies Halal products in the province.

An agenda item regarding provision of subsidised wheat to the Azad Jammu & Kashmir under the Extended Ramzan Package, was withdrawn.

Addressing the cabinet, the chief minister said the PML-N government had taken unprecedented steps for the development of southern region.

“Provision of 36 per cent resources for 31 per cent population is part of this commitment,” he said.

“The massive development work in south Punjab would continue in future as well,” he asserted.

The cabinet strongly condemned attack on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and prayed for his early recovery.

The CM ordered constitution of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the incident.

Provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants, chief secretary and inspector general of police attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2018