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South Punjab to get separate development programme from next year: Qureshi

Updated December 01, 2018

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Qureshi acknowledges that the government will need opposition's help to create a new province. — DawnNewsTV
Qureshi acknowledges that the government will need opposition's help to create a new province. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday announced that from 2019 a separate development programme will be created for south Punjab to remedy the imbalance of resource allocation in the province.

The minister, during a media talk in Multan, said that "keeping in mind the region's population, backwardness and requirements, it has been decided that from next a year a separate development programme be set up."

Referring to the previous as well as the current year's budget, Qureshi said that "most money had gone to other areas and there was an imbalance".

"We want to fix this imbalance," he added, stressing that the planned development was also the wish of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

The foreign minister said that turning south Punjab into a province is his party's wish as well as a promise in their manifesto, and while he claimed that progress is being made in this regard, he acknowledged that their plans have encountered some legal hindrances.

Qureshi noted that the PTI alone does not have a majority to make constitutional amendments and needed the support of the opposition.

"They [opposition] also say that there should be a province," he said. "Then come and sit with us."

The foreign minister said that certain decisions have already been taken at the executive level to provide better facilities to the people of south Punjab.

These steps, he said, included the creation of a secretariat in south Punjab so that the problems of employees and citizens could be solved closer to their homes instead of Lahore — the provincial capital.

'Not an easy task to achieve'

While addressing a news conference in Peshawar on Saturday afternoon, President Arif Alvi said that a merger is "not an easy task to achieve and the creation of a new province altogether, that is, South Punjab province, under the government's [current] priorities, is even more difficult".

The president said that this is so because there are challenges such as the division of assets and the determination of the ratio under which water resources will be allotted.

"For example, under the 18th Amendment, the provinces were granted a lot [of ministries] but the capacity building of provinces remains a constant struggle," he explained.

"Similarly, the Fata merger has taken place in principle, but in practice, a lot of issues remain which need to be addressed," President Alvi added.