“President Zardari cannot make any such announcement unless a resolution is passed by the provincial assembly concerned by a two-thirds majority. The president has no powers to announce any province on his own,” said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar on Thursday. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari will not announce any new province, especially in Punjab, on the Independence Day, his spokesman Farhatullah Babar said on Thursday.

“President Zardari cannot make any such announcement unless a resolution is passed by the provincial assembly concerned by a two-thirds majority,” the spokesman said. “The president has no powers to announce any province on his own.”

However, former law minister Babar Awan had said two days ago: “The people of Saraiki areas will be given the greatest news in the history of Pakistan during Ramazan.”

Sources in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that although the ruling party in Punjab, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, had opposed the idea of Saraiki province, the PML-Q had supported it.

“If the PPP and PML-Q raise their voice in the provincial assembly for the new province, it can generate public pressure that may force the government to announce the new province,” they said.

The PML-N may have smelled the move, judging by Nawaz Sharif’s move to set up a party committee on the issue of new provinces on Monday.

The establishment of a new province also requires an approval by the National Assembly.

The government may announce its plan and then follow the required procedure with the cooperation of allied parties.

However, it is likely to face strong resistance in Punjab over formation of a new province and it will be difficult for the Pakistan People’s Party to get the resolution passed in the provincial assembly by the required majority.

Demands for separate provinces have been raised for a long time in the Saraiki, Hazara and Bahawalpur regions.

The PML-Q has claimed that the PPP has agreed on the creation of two new provinces -- south Punjab and Hazara -- and President Zardari made a commitment on the matter when the party joined the ruling coalition in May.

The party’s leader Kamil Ali Agha said: “The PML-Q had put this as a condition of alliance with the PPP and our party also wants the government to provide resources to the neglected people of these areas on the basis of equality.”

He said a government initiative in this regard would be a step in fulfilling his party’s demand.

PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq said the Constitution did not permit the formation of provinces on linguistic or sectarian grounds.

He said provinces could be made on administrative grounds and a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly was also required for implementing the decision -- not an easy goal to achieve.

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