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Commission on new provinces set up

August 17, 2012


A view of the National Assembly. — Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD, Aug 16: National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza constituted on Thursday “a 14-member parliamentary commission for creation of new provinces in Punjab”. There are three members belonging to the PML-N which has surprised the party.

Her announcement named 12 members, drawn from the two houses of parliament, and said two others would be nominated by the speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

According to a notification issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, the speaker has constituted the commission in pursuance of a message received from President Asif Ali Zardari and authorisation by the National Assembly on July 11.

But what confounded the PML-N was that it did not know who had nominated the three members.

Interestingly, the speaker’s announcement also exposed a lack of communication and coordination in the PML-N because a number of its office-bearers, when contacted, refused to speak on record, saying they did not know who had provided the three names to the speaker or the Senate chairman. They believed that the names had been provided by either Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan or Senator Ishaq Dar. According to some PML-N leaders, the speaker might have nominated the members on her own.

Senator Dar is in Saudi Arabia with party chief Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

One of the PML-N members nominated on the commission said he had come to know about inclusion of his name through the media. No-one from the party or the speaker’s office had contacted him to seek his consent, he said.

An official of the National Assembly Secretariat claimed that the speaker had nominated the members after consulting the leaders of all parties. He said the speaker had never in the past unilaterally nominated any member of a commission or even a standing committee and “therefore, it is out of question”.

The members of the commission are: Farahatullah Babar, Syeda Sughra Imam, Ali Musa Gilani, Jamshed Dasti and Arif Aziz Sheikh of the Pakistan People’s Party; Haji Mohammad Adeel of Awami National Party; Kamil Ali Agha of Pakistan Muslim League-Q; Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana, Tahmina Daultana and Chaudhry Saud Majeed of PML-N; Dr Farooq Sattar of Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl).

The PML-N had earlier said it was not interested in having representation on the commission as it considered it a political move of the PPP aimed at carving out a new province only in Punjab, ignoring the demands made in other parts of the country.

The National Assembly speaker was authorised by the house on July 11 to name the commission to propose demarcation of and allocation of parliamentary seats and resources to the proposed units.

The move came after a message from President Zardari was read out by Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi calling for the constitution of the commission to implement, by amending the Constitution, two resolutions passed in May by the lower house of parliament and the Punjab Assembly.

The presidential message said the commission must submit its report to the speaker and the prime minister within 30 days after its notification, which would be followed by the initiation of the process of amendment to the Constitution, including Articles 1 (2), 51, 59 and 106.

The May 3 National Assembly resolution, sponsored by the ruling coalition, had demanded the creation of ‘Janoobi Punjab’ province. And the subsequent Punjab Assembly resolution called for the creation of Janoobi Punjab and revival of the status of Bahawalpur as a province.