KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that there was a need to interpret the Constitution in terms of creation of new province in the country.
“As far as my personal opinion is concerned, the Constitution allows modification in the boundaries of a province as there is no clear-cut mention of the creation of new provinces.”
The chief minister stated this while talking to a delegation of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice led by Senator Mohammad Javed Abbasi which called on him here on Monday at the CM House.
Other members in the delegation included Senators Ghous Mohammad Khan, Musaddiq Masood Malik, Walid Iqbal, Sana Jamali and others. The chief minister was assisted by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab and others.
Says Sindh govt may consider lowering minimum age for labourers to 16
During the meeting issues pertaining to creation of new provinces and fixation of age of a labourer in the light of child labour laws came under discussion.
‘Modification of boundaries’
The CM said that he was not a practicing lawyer but he was of the view that the Constitution needed to be interpreted for creation of new provinces.
“The Constitution allows modification of boundaries, now question arises whether the modification [of boundaries] implies creation of new province or it is about resettlement of boundaries between ... provinces,” he asked and added that as far as creation of new province was concerned it must be demanded by the provincial assembly concerned with two-thirds majority.
Law Adviser Wahab also briefed the standing committee on the position of the provincial government and said the Punjab Assembly had already passed a resolution for creation of South Punjab province and now it was pending with the federal government.
The chief minister said that no demand for a separate province could be entertained until and unless the provincial assembly concerned demanded it.
He added that the creation of South Punjab had already been demanded by the Punjab Assembly and likewise the demand of Hazara province had been made by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
Talking about fixation of minimum age of a labourer, the chief minister said that it could be 16 years. He said although the provincial government, in order to discourage child labour, had fixed 18 years but it could be made 16 years.
Mr Shah said that the federal government was reluctant to convene the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to discuss issues.
Recalling that Pakistan Railways was a CCI subject but it had never been discussed in its meetings, the CM pointed out that the last CCI meeting was held 13 months ago but now its next meeting had been convened on Dec 11.
“The Sindh government is actually the government of opposition but it has never been treated democratically,” the chief minister said, adding: “If the federal government follows the Constitution there would be no difference or outstanding issues between the Centre and the province.”
He said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had held a CCI meeting for three continuous days while the then PPP government of Asif Ali Zardari and then Nawaz Sharif’s used to hold regular meetings.
Opposes increase in NA constituencies on area basis
The meeting pointed out that Balochistan might get one more National Assembly seat purely based on its vast area since each NA constituency in Balochistan stretches over 200 miles and it is not possible for a candidate to visit the entire constituency.
The chief minister said that area or distance could not be made a criterion for increase in NA seats. “Yes, the provincial assembly seats can be increased on the basis of area which may facilitate the people and the candidate internally,” he said.
Mr Shah said that the creation of the Senate as a constitutional body was aimed at giving equal representation to the provinces. Therefore, the criteria of area could not be accepted for NA seat.
He said that a vertical programme in health and population departments had been abandoned by the federal government as far as their funding was concerned.
As a matter of fact, the federal government had earlier decided to continue the funding until the next National Finance Commission Award, but later decided to stop funding.
The chief minister urged the committee to take up the issues of the CCI meetings, NFC award and release of funds for vertical programmes with the federal government.
The committee members appreciated the chief minister for his input in the discussion.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2019