Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Tuesday that if necessary, a Seraiki province would be carved out after evolving a consensus among all political parties.
“Taking a solo flight on any issue is not politics of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP),” he said, while speaking to journalists after attending the convocation of a private university in Lahore.
Asked about the opposition’s claim that the government was ‘spreading hatred’ by making a Seraiki province on a linguistic basis, the prime minister said: “No one had raised any objection over the name of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” and added that a “flower called by any other name smells equally good.”
Regarding the formation of a Seraiki bank, Prime Minister Gilani said that establishing a bank is the sole right of the federation and a province has no role in it. The federal government, he elaborated, has been negotiating with other countries like India to establish branches of their banks in Pakistan, while Chinese banks have also opened many branches in the country.
Premier Gilani said that whenever he met his Indian counterpart, he discussed the core issues like Kashmir, Sir Creek, and terrorism and added that both of them are now openly talking about all bilateral issues, including Siachen.
Asked about the recent target killings in Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan, the premier said maintaining law and order is the primarily responsibility of provincial governments. However, he added that he has directed concerned federal departments to extend their support to provincial departments.
Sikh delegation meets Gilani
While talking to a Sikh delegation from India, the premier said that the governments of Pakistan and India may ease restrictions on pilgrims’ visas.
The Indian Sikh delegation, led by Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB)’s chairman Asif Hashmi, called on Prime Minister Gilani at the Punjab Governor House.
During the meeting, they agreed that India and Pakistan would revisit the limits of pilgrim visas across the border, and also discussed proposals on easing restrictions.
The Sikh delegation appreciated both governments’ efforts regarding the visa policy of the business community and suggested to implement the same policy in dealing with pilgrim visas.
The prime minister assured them that all suggestions would be taken up with relevant authorities.
Another long overdue demand over the establishment of a residential complex in Lahore was also discussed.
Prime Minister Gilani, in this regard, asked acting Punjab Governor Rana Muhammad Iqbal to get approval from the Punjab government after which the federal government would begin construction.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.