LAHORE: Despite its tiny size in the coming 17th house of the Punjab Assembly, the PPP vows not to allow the issue of bifurcation of Punjab province for resolving problems of the Seraiki belt die down.

“Despite our small parliamentary strength, we’ll keep the issue alive in the Punjab Assembly, and will vociferously demand announcement of the Provincial Finance Commission award at the pattern of the National Finance Commission award,” PPP South Punjab President Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood told a group of reporters here on Wednesday.

The party secured just six seats out of 297 directly contested constituencies of 17th provincial house, which is going to take oath by Aug 14. Five of these seats were won from south Punjab.

The people of the region, which is known for its cotton and mango crops, have been saying for decades that their area’s development is overlooked by successive governments in Lahore and some of them have been calling for bifurcating Punjab so they take their destiny into their own hands.

Recently, some disgruntled parliamentarians of then ruling PML-N had formed a group in the name of South Punjab Suba Mahaz (South Punjab Province Front) just before the general election to fight for the cause. The group soon merged into the PTI.

Mr Mahmood recalls that he as the lone MPA from the platform of the PML-F had raised the issue of bifurcation of Punjab for the first time in the 15th house (2008-13) of the Punjab Assembly. “I was booed then even by members from the Seraiki region. But, my consistent efforts paid back when the same house adopted two resolutions with one voice – one concerning the creation of the south Punjab and the other for revival of the Bahawalpur province, consisting of the area of the Bahawalpur Princely State that had been merged into Punjab while declaring the then whole West Pakistan as One Unit.”

He says that the issue will also test the determination of the PTI to meet its promises for its chief Imran Khan, while accepting Mahaz members into the PTI folds, had announced creating the south Punjab province within the first 100 days of the institution of the party’s government.

For the creation of a new province, at least two-thirds MPAs of the relevant provincial assembly should pass a resolution for the purpose before the same is passed by both upper and lower houses of the bicameral parliament and then the matter is referred to relevant ministries for legislation and taking care of administrative and financial aspects of the issue.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2018