The opposition Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) on Friday rejected the composition of a parliamentary commission to carve two new federating units out of Punjab, diminishing the government’s hopes for political gains from dividing the country’s most populous province.
Speaking at a press conference, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said he was shocked to learn that Speaker Fehmida Mirza constituted the commission while on a visit to the United States.
He expressed his displeasure with the speaker for not bothering to wait for receiving nominations from the main opposition party before making such an important announcement.
“It is a political gimmick. Nothing more than that,” Chaudhry Nisar said of a plan by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to create new Seraiki and Bahawalpur provinces.
The opposition, however, did not call for de-notification of the commission, but restricted its demand only to changing its composition with 50% representation from the PML-N and expulsion of members from other provinces.
The PML-N, Chaudhry Nisar said, was concerned that the speaker had once again become part of the government’s game-plan and its dual standards.
Additionally, he questioned the government’s sincerity in creating new provinces, accusing the ruling party of only trying to advance its political goals. The PML-N leader added that the opposition was never invited to propose names for the commission. “All that was shared with me was a verbal message to give names,” he added.
Chaudhry Nisar said the opposition was ready to discuss the matter with the ruling party and wanted to be informed on the composition of the proposed commission and its terms of reference from the National Assembly secretariat.
However, he expressed surprise that the commission, with negligible representation from the opposition party, was announced in the meantime. He demanded the PPP take lawful steps if it was serious about the formation of new provinces.
Chaudhry Nisar said that if the proposed commission was meant only for the creation of two new provinces in Punjab, the PML-N as the single largest party, must have 50% representation in it. He added that all the members of the commission should be from the province concerned, if it was to be Punjab centric.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.