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PM reiterates support for creation of new provinces

January 03, 2012

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday reiterated his commitment for the creation of new provinces, including a Saraeki province and asked the chief whip in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah to discuss it with allied parties and move a resolution in the House.

“I am in full support of our province (Saraeki). If new provinces, including the Saraeki province, are not created during my premiership, then when it will happen,” the prime minister said in the National Assembly in response to a point of order by Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).

The prime minister said that it was the motto of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to remove the sense of deprivation among the people of backward areas.

“Had the sense of deprivation of smaller provinces been removed in the past, then Pakistan would not have been dismembered,” Prime Minister Gilani said.

He said a proper mechanism should be adopted for moving a resolution for the purpose, adding that nobody could block the resolution as it was in accordance with the aspirations of the people.

He said the PPP was a national party “which exists in all four provinces and in Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Fata.”

The prime minister rejected the remarks of Mehtab Abbasi that he (PM) was struggling for the creation of a Saraeki province to pave the way for his son as chief minister of that province.

“We are among the creators of this country. Our forefathers contributed in its creation and this is a historical fact,” Prime Minister Gilani said.

The prime minister said that the demand for the Saraeki province was not new and added that Multan was the capital of Sindh province some 5,000 years ago and hence it was a legitimate demand of the people of that region.

Prime Minister Gilani said if the Parliament ensured rights to the Pukhtoons and the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata, “then how is it possible that it will not give us our identity”.

“We have implemented all the resolutions regarding Balochistan province except the one regarding the law and order situation which is a provincial subject,” he added.

He said a delegation from Hazara met him and discussed the issue of the new province.

I talked to the Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and asked him how the issue could be resolved, the prime minister said, adding that, in response, Asfandyar said that if the PPP had a consensus on the issue then it could be discussed in the House.

The prime minister said that he then referred the matter to the PPP's Parliamentary Party and the PPP fully advocated federalism.

He dismissed the allegation that the PPP was weakening Pakistan, adding that Pakistan was guarded by the Constitution which was given to the country by the PPP and which provided a guarantee for Pakistan’s security.

Regarding PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif's statement for setting up military courts in Karachi, the prime minister asked how was it possible in a democratic set up and termed it a double standard of the PML-N.

“In democracy, there is no room for such courts. Military should always be kept in the background,” he said and added that Rangers were deployed in Karachi on the request of the provincial government to improve law and order.

The prime minister asked that if such courts were set up what would the difference be between a democracy and a dictatorship.