ISLAMABAD: Representatives of political parties and civil society on Thursday called upon Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to start the process of creating the Seraiki province as it had promised to materialise it within 100 days after forming its government.
They were speaking at a seminar on the creation of the new province held at the National Press Club. The event was organised by an organisation, Seraiki Lok Sanjh.
Former Senator Farhatullah Babar, who was the chairman of a parliamentary committee constituted for the creation of new provinces during the tenure of the PPP, suggested to the participants that they should convince the government to adopt the bill prepared during the tenure of the PPP.
“I am sure that the government would say that it wants to introduce its own bill. All stakeholders should ask the government that it should adopt the bill and the report prepared by a parliamentary commission and table it with the signature of a PTI minister. The PTI will not be able to oppose the government bill. Similarly, the PPP cannot oppose the bill as it has already passed it from Senate with a two-third majority during its tenure.”
Mr Babar said in the past the PPP had prepared the Right to Information (RTI) Bill but later it offered to the PML-N government to adopt the bill and introduce it as a government bill. As a result, the bill was passed and now RTI has been enforced across the country.
Mr Babar said a constitutional amendment bill to create the South Punjab province had been passed by the Senate in August 2013.
“The promised new province is part of the PTI’s 100 days’ agenda. The party can run away from it only at a huge political cost and loss of credibility. Seraiki people should hold the new government accountable for this.”
He said the PTI won 30 out of the 50 parliamentary seats from the Seraiki belt. The PPP has already committed itself to the creation of the new province and the PML-N was also part of resolutions passed in the Punjab Assembly in May 2012 calling for the South Punjab province. When all elements of political support are there, what prevents the PTI from going ahead with the creation of the new province, he wondered.
Mr Babar said in 2012 the three southern divisions of Multan, Bahawalpur and D.G. Khan accounted for 84pc of cotton, 41pc of wheat and 36pc of sugar production in Punjab. Similarly, over 85pc of cotton ginning factories, nearly 40pc of flour mills, 30pc of sugar mills and 25pc of fertilizer making units of Punjab were located in the southern divisions.
About its deprivations, he said the quota of Punjab in the federal bureaucracy was nearly 50pc and as such the three divisions should get 30pc of it. However, it had been denied as Punjab refused to adopt the zoning formula in Article 27 of the Constitution which had been adopted by all other provinces. PTI MNA Mohammad Afzal Khan Dhandla said he was in favour of the Seraiki province and hoped that it would be created soon as all the political parties were in its favour.
“I suggest that people of Southern Punjab should announce that they will never cast vote in favour of a party which would not vote for the province. Moreover, Multan has never been part of Punjab in the past,” he said.
PPP MNA Nawab Yousuf Talpur said his party was in favour of the Seraiki province and would support the bill in parliament.
Mehmood Nizami from southern Punjab said in the past the national and provincial assemblies had passed resolutions for the creation of the province.
“It is the right time to create the new province because otherwise the country may start suffering,” he said.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2018