While the PML-N government in Punjab has attempted to appease its people by promising the creation of new provinces, it is simultaneously delaying the formation of a commission to complete the task, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The Punjab government is delaying the formation of a commission mandated to decide the formation of new provinces by not responding to a federal government request asking them to nominate two MPAs from the Punjab Assembly for the commission, sources said.
National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza sent a letter six days ago to Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, asking him to nominate two MPAs for the commission so that it could fulfill the difficult task of creating the new provinces in Punjab.
According to an official of the Punjab Assembly Secretariat, although they had received the letter, Speaker Rana Iqbal has not taken it up yet.
The speaker, according to the official, has left the decision to the leadership of his party, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), and added that he would follow the party decision on the matter.
The PML-N has directed Speaker Rana Iqbal to delay a decision on the request for as long as rules allow.
The public relations officer of Rana Iqbal, while confirming the receipt of the letter, said that he had no information when the speaker would consider it.
Sources in the PML-N have said that the party is in talks with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition government over the formation of four new provinces instead of two. Unless they reach an agreement at some point, the speaker will not respond to the letter.
Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa said it was an injustice to the people of South Punjab that the Punjab government is delaying the process of the formation of new provinces.
On May 31, President Asif Ali Zardari sent a reference to the NA speaker, calling for the constitution of a commission comprising six senators, as many MNAs and two members from the Punjab Assembly to look into issues related to the creation of two new provinces, namely Multan and Bahawalpur in Punjab and to initiate the process of amendments in the Constitution for this purpose.
On May 3, the NA passed a majority resolution to form a new province to be known as Janoobi Punjab to be created from the current Punjab province.
The PML-N, on the same day submitted a resolution in the NA secretariat pertaining to the formation of four new provinces including South Punjab, the restoration of Bahawalpur province, Hazara and Fata.
On May 9, the PA unanimously passed a resolution calling for the formation of a commission to create a new South Punjab province and to restore the status of Bahawalpur province.
On July 11, the NA endorsed the message of President Zardari which he had sent to the speaker of the NA, where he asked to create a commission and authorised the speaker to nominate six members from the house.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.