Bahawalpur National Party chief Nawaz Salahuddin Abbasi said on Wednesday that if the parliament failed to restore Bahawalpur state, the matter would be taken to the Supreme Court.
He was speaking at a public rally in Sadiqabad. Besides BNP, representatives of Pakistan Muslim League (Functional), PML-N, Jamati-i-Islami, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Movement for Hazara Province attended the rally.
Abbasi said Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had promised to grant autonomous status (within the federation of Pakistan) to Bahawalpur.
The BNP chairman challenged Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to contest the next general election against him from Bahawalpur division. “Let’s take the issue to the people and see whose side they take,” he said.
Abbasi asked Shahbaz Sharif to get the Punjab Assembly to pass a resolution in support of an independent Bahawalpur province from Punjab Assembly if he was committed to the cause.
Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood of PML-F refuted the impression that the creation of Bahawalpur and Seraiki provinces was a mutually exclusive matter.
“Bahawalpur’s autonomous status was usurped through the establishment of One Unit,” he said. Mehmood said he supported the movement for the formation of a Seraiki province but not at the cost of suppressing the rights of people of the Bahawalpur region.
Hazara Province Movement chief Baba Haider Zaman drew a parallel between the sufferings of the Hazara people and the residents of south Punjab. He said like the ‘throne of Lahore’s’ exploitation of the people of south Punjab, the rights of the Hazara were being suppressed by the ‘throne of Peshawar’. He accused the government of attempting to extract political mileage from the issue of formation of more provinces.
He said all demands for formation of new provinces should be considered in light of the grievances of the people.
JI provincial chief Dr Waseem Akhtar also supported the establishment of Bahawalpur province.
The rally was also addressed by PML-N’s Mian Imtiaz Ahmed, a ticket holder for the NA-196 by-poll. Several PTI leaders were also present.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.