The Punjab Assembly resolution on Wednesday to create two new provinces in Punjab were praised by Bahawalpur province supporters while South Punjab supporters were skeptical.
Mian Baleeghur Rehman, adviser to the chief minister, told The Express Tribune that the move to create the Bahawalpur and South Punjab provinces was a victory for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
PML-N MNA Begum Parveen Masood Bhatti said that Shahbaz Sharif had fulfilled the demand of the people of Bahawalpur.
Malik Farooq Azam, president of the Bahawalpur National Awami Party, said that the resolution was welcome and they stood united under the leadership of Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi to ‘restore the Bahawalpur province.’
“The parties must pass a bill in the National and Provincial assemblies to confirm the move,” he said. Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood, spokesman of the Tehreek Bahali Suba Bahawalpur (Movement to Restore Bahawalpur Province), said that the resolution was a matter of pride for the movement.
However, Barrister Taaj Langah, president of the Pakistan Saraiki Party, said that they rejected the resolution to create the Bahawalpur province.
“Nawaz Sharif is the enemy of the Saraiki people,” he said. “He is dividing them into two parts like North and South Korea and East and West Germany.”
Political analyst Amjad Bukhari said that the resolutions were merely point scoring.
“A long process is yet to conclude. A constitutional amendment will be presented in the National Assembly which will need to be approved by a two-thirds majority. It will then be sent to the Senate before being sent to the provincial assembly concerned,” he said.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA Nazim Shah said that only a south Punjab province was feasible.
“A new province with three districts and 25 MPAs cannot be created,” he said, referring to Bahawalpur. “The PML-N has been treating this like child’s play.”
MPA Mujtaba Gillani of the PPP said that the evolution of states would cause problems for the federations.
“Bahawalpur province will be a state within the state. If this is accepted, then Swat and Kalat were also states,” he said.
Former PPP MPA Javed Siddiqi said that only South Punjab was a politically and economically viable province.
Saraikistan Qaumi Party President Zahoor Dhareeja said that the Saraiki claim to being a separate and whole culture was stronger than Bahawalpur.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.
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