Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday said that a national dialogue must be held to evolve consensus over new provinces and that the call for new provinces should not be used merely as an election slogan.
Addressing a public gathering in Shujabad after inaugurating the Multan-Shujabad section of the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the prime minister said many other countries had created new provinces and it was possible in Pakistan too.
However, the prime minister also told the gathering that those who are now calling for a south Punjab province "were themselves a part of Pervez Musharrafs government when the new province could have been created within no time".
He said such people were just cheating the masses and challenged his opponents to prove their performances were better than that of the PML-N government in all sectors.
Continuing from a day earlier with his narrative on achieving national consensus on critical issues, Abbasi said today that the entire political elite should now come together on the issue of new provinces, adding that the politics of blackmailing would not work anymore.
Calls for new provinces have grown recently with a number of PML-N lawmakers breaking away from the ruling party to lobby for a new province in south Punjab last month.
The group was later merged into the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which has promised that processes to carve out the new province from Punjab will be kick-started within the first 100 days of PTI coming into power.
A debate on the issue of formation of a province in lower, urban Sindh has also turned heated, with an acrimonious debate in the Sindh Assembly earlier this week which saw Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and opposition leader Khwaja Izharul Hassan trading hot words.
The prime minister, accompanied by Punjab Governor Muhammad Rafiq Rajwana and Minister for Water Resources Javed Ali Shah, today unveiled the plaque of a project that he said had been completed a year ahead of schedule.
The Sukkur-Multan Motorway is part of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway project and is being constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with a cost of Rs294 billion.
Work on the motorway began in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by 2019. It is a 6-lane access controlled facility, taking off from Sukkur and terminating at Multan, after passing through several major cities including Ghotki, Rahim Yar Khan, Sadiqabad and Bahawalpur.
On the occasion, he said the present government has delivered beyond its commitments and besides its own projects. It had also finished the half-complete projects of previous governments that had been lingering for decades, he said.
The previous governments had the same resources as the PML-N but had failed to deliver, Abbasi complained.