DERA GHAZI KHAN: The Seraiki Lok Sanjh issued a press statement on Sunday rejecting the presentation of the South Punjab Province Bill in Parliament by the ruling party.

The body notes the introduction of the bill by the government proposes to amend the constitution to create the province of South Punjab.

“As advocates for the creation of a Seraiki (South Punjab) province over the last four decades, we are dismayed that the bill has been introduced at a time when the government is fighting to save itself in the face of popular discontent and a loss of confidence among members of the National Assembly”, reads the note.

The Sanjh expressed its dismay over the development: “The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power by centring the redressal of the grievances of the people of the Seraiki Waseb in its manifesto. Since coming to power, we have found them uncommitted to the creation of the South Punjab province.

We note that the Law and Justice Committee of the National Assembly had, in 2019, recommended the creation of a Parliamentary Committee that would consider the issue and work to build parliamentary consensus on the creation of the new province.

This recommendation was not implemented by the government, which left the issue dormant and did not make any efforts towards building the required majority that was required to pass a constitutional amendment delimiting the new province”.

It said submitting the bill now at a time when the government is facing a consequential and likely successful vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly reeks of insincerity. It is clear the government wishes to exploit the legitimate grievances of the people of the Seraiki Waseb to delay and distract from the constitutionally mandated process by which it must submit to a vote of no-confidence.

The note concluded that it was disappointing to us that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who has long claimed himself to be our representative, is at the forefront of the cynical move.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2022

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