Feeling somewhat pipped to the post by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who submitted a constitutional amendment to the National Assembly calling for the creation of new provinces, the Pakistan Peoples Party has decided to bring its own resolution seeking the bifurcation of Punjab.
It seems the PPP would have made the resolution sooner, but have not out of fear of upsetting the Pakistan Mulsim League-Nawaz, who want to pursue the province question more steadily.
Top officials in the party told The Express Tribune on Monday that their resolution was currently being drafted by the group’s legal experts. It will be submitted to the National Assembly during the next session in February. “We feel a little embarrassed that another party took the first substantial step in what should have been our initiative. We are finalising our own resolution and will come up with it soon,” said a PPP federal minister, asking not to be named.
Asked about the sensitivity of the issue – which is why the source preferred to remain anonymous – the minister said he did not want to hurt the party’s efforts to seek a revival of cordial relations with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The PML-N do not want to rush the issue of creating a separate Seraiki province in Punjab, and the PPP do not wish to be seen to be hurrying the reforms.
The PPP and the party of former premier Nawaz Sharif have warmed to each other in recent weeks. Leaders from both sides have glorified this as a strategy to put up a united fight against perceived attempts by the powerful security establishment to derail the democratic system.
Both the major political parties, who were alone in what was a musical chairs of power games throughout the 1990s, are afraid of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf joining front-line politics as a so-called ‘third force’.
There are hyped fears among the ranks of both the parties that the former cricketing star was being pampered by the establishment to penalise them for not bowing to the mighty military, which, it is assumed, always seeks to play a vital role in the country’s Byzantine politics.
“That is why we are holding back our plan of bringing the resolution calling for carving southern parts out of Punjab to create a separate Seraiki province. Nawaz Sharif wants us not to rush this … otherwise we would have not let the MQM take a lead,” said the PPP leader.
Nawaz, whose party is in political control of Punjab, the most populous province, is concerned about the southern parts of his ‘fiefdom’ being separated from the rest of the province.
The PPP leader said his party would now convey to the PML-N that after the MQM’s move it was difficult for the PPP to hold back, because it could hurt their politics in the region, which is famous for the production of cotton that contributes more than 10% to the country’s annual national income.
According to other officials, unlike the MQM’s constitutional amendment, the PPP’s resolution will not envisage the creation of a Hazara province comprised of northern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “It doesn’t suit us politically,” a PPP leader said.
In addition, the PPP’s resolution will not include the Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa in the proposed Seraiki province, officials said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.