Seraiki province in PPP manifesto: PM

Published: March 14, 2011
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Gilani says government will protect rights of parliament

Gilani says government will protect rights of parliament

MULTAN: 

In what is being seen as a bid to strengthen the South Punjab vote bank of his party, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that the formation of a Seraiki province would be part of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) manifesto for the next elections. He also told his detractors that his government would complete its five years in office, “come what may.”

Gilani was addressing a public gathering at the Jalalpur Pirwala stadium, more than 90 kilometres from Multan, after inaugurating an electricity project here. His announcement of support for a Seraiki province was met with a loud roar of approval and applause from the audience.

The creation of a Seraiki province is a long standing demand of people of the area. Seraiki is widely spoken in southern Punjab, whose people have often complained of a lack of development in their region compared to northern parts of the province. Gilani himself holds a national assembly seat from Multan. Last year, several PPP MNAs from the region raised the issue of a new province in the National Assembly as well as in meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari.

On Friday, Gilani told a gathering of journalists in Karachi that he was not against the creation of separate provinces in the country “provided it is done within the parameters of the democratic framework.” When asked about a separate  Seraiki province in South Punjab, Gilani said he would favour such a proposal.

Analysts say that PPP support for a Seraiki province is seen within the party as a vote winner and a way to shore up its support in the area which is under threat from religious extremists. It may also trouble the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which heads the provincial government and whose top leadership is thought to be opposed to a division of Pakistan’s most populous province.

Gilani said that his government would protect the powers of all of Pakistan’s democratic institutions, including parliament. “We have neither interfered in the jurisdiction of others, nor will we allow others to interfere in our affairs,” he said, in an apparent reference to his government’s dispute with the Supreme Court over the appointment of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman.

The prime minister also said that the support price of agricultural produce would be raised. Gilani said that the government would complete its full five-year term. The voters gave the government a five-year mandate, he said.

“Those talking about change should not seek a five-year performance after just three years. The people have the right to hold their representatives accountable through the ballot after five years,” he said.

He said that a countrywide poverty survey was in progress under the Benazir Income Support Programme and those identified as poor would be entitled to health and life insurance. He said that a list of people too poor to pay their gas or electricity bills was also being prepared and they would be provided relief.

Targeted killings a provincial subject

Earlier talking to reporters, the prime minister said that there should be a joint strategy to control law and order in Karachi, but this was a provincial subject that came under the purview of the Sindh government.

He said that the law enforcement agencies had been told to step up their efforts and provide information to the provinces. “We have to work together to tackle the problem,” he added.

Gilani said that the recent resolution passed by the Sindh Assembly condemning the Supreme Court’s NAB chairman decision was the voice of the people. “I respect the mandate of the people and I support the resolution by the representatives of the people,” he said.

To a question about the Raymond Davis case, he accused the media of creating hype. “Nobody should try to be more patriotic than us. We are as loyal and patriotic as any Pakistani can be,” he said. “The government will not take any step that undermines the dignity and honour of the country.”

On Sunday, the prime minister inaugurated three grid stations, which cost some Rs1 billion, that will benefit more than 41,000 consumers in southern Punjab. He also inaugurated a flyover and a cancer ward at Nishtar Hospital in Multan.

With additional input from APP

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Mar 14, 2011 - 9:37AM

    A very good thinking. I would suggest three provinces in Punjab. Apart from Saraiki it should also be Potohar province also. In Pakistan we need more provinces and would further go to suggest three in Balouchistan and four in KP. Please give top priority to these suggestions. It is time to get rid from few family type of rulers and moreover it will be fruitful in all ways even from the administrative point of view. Recommend

  • PakistaniCanadian
    Mar 14, 2011 - 10:28AM

    The only people who will see this as a ‘bid to strengthen the south Punjab vote bank’ will be missing the point. This is not a war on Punjabis, or a sign of the impending doom of the country. Provinces are just smaller administrative units and Punjab is too large a population to be just one unit.

    Punjab is allocated far too many seats in the National Assembly (although proportional with its population) when compared to other provinces. This ultimately means all decisions must first be approved by that province even when it is not affected in any way, shape, or form. A grand example of that was the dispute over renaming of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. A long standing demand of the majority of people in KP was held hostage simply because Punjab (through their MNAs) did not want to accede to a legitimate demand. What business did PML-Q or PML-N have in not allowing this to happen? How would we Punjabis feel if we had been a smaller province (population wise), and a larger province changed our province’s name to the Eastern Frontier Province despite our reservations?

    At the provincial level, PML-N has long been spending the bulk of Punjab’s budget in central/eastern Punjab and neglecting the south, hence the expression ‘Takht Lahore’. A smaller Punjab has the dual benefit of eliminating the heavy influence this province has in the National Assembly in making or resisting policies that affect other provinces or the fate of the entire country, as well as allowing southern Punjab to utilize their funds how they see fit.

    Let’s not turn this into an issue of ethnic pride or a sign of the country’s disintegration. Pakistan should have as many provinces as the people demand. If that translates into another province like Hazara that ultimately incorporates land from both KP and Punjab, so be it. Central/Eastern punjab will still remain a credible force in the National Assembly for anyone who is worried about losing influence.Recommend

  • Mar 14, 2011 - 11:25AM

    There is a need for such step to be taken .. They should create the province now rather thn waiting for their next term, which is out of the ¿ Question ? .. because thy wnt win .. Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 14, 2011 - 11:31AM

    This is sheer stupidity and crass behavior of a losing man. The longer this shoe-shine man stays the more he will figure in Pakistan’s history as responsible for its destruction. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 14, 2011 - 12:56PM

    This would be great step by PPP, and would certainly be helpful to reduce the perception that BIG BROTHER is hostile to others, and with this step Pakistan would be more integrated.Recommend

  • Abu Muhammad
    Mar 14, 2011 - 1:22PM

    This is failure Prime Minister of Pakistan, he is leading Pakistan without vision, aim and starategy. He is just fighting war against political parties to protect his chair/government as well as PPP. He is not fighting war against the illiteracy, inflaction, electricity shortfall and downfalling economy. Recommend

  • Aqeel Ahmed Khan Sherwani
    Mar 14, 2011 - 1:35PM

    well if this is done in concensus, it will be good step like they did for Gilgit-BaltistanRecommend

  • Mar 14, 2011 - 1:38PM

    @Abu Muhammad: Yes you are right. Illiteracy, inflation, electricity shortfall and failing economy, which is dependant on IMF loans. Seraiki province can come even after five or ten years. It is not a need of the hour. Salams for ever.Recommend

  • KM
    Mar 14, 2011 - 1:39PM

    More provinces mean more money required for the administrative level … Certainly the new provinces add to harmony, but do these people want provinces further based on IMF funding, or will they ever be self sufficient. I call this a drama to acquire votes, and people as usual are dumb to understand the true picture.

    I for one suggest to first start focusing on what we can do to become self sufficient and then look at forming provinces. You don’t hire the top brass for a corporate company on the very first day, you start producing as per your capabilities and then gradually departmentalize, and hire or plant higher management after the pie grows.Recommend

  • Mar 14, 2011 - 1:43PM

    PPP government is not serious in the making of Seraiki Province, only using it for political purpose.Recommend

  • waqas babar
    Mar 14, 2011 - 2:53PM

    the ppp is on a mission to destroy punjab,be it the racist response from the ppp sindh or gilani’s threat of breaking up punjab.
    the ppp should realise that it’s not a simple case of breaking up one province,if new provinces are to be made,then first of all the muhajirs of karachi & hyderabad will have a new province of their own.They form the majority population in karachi & hyderabad & deserve a province of their own to rule over as they wish.

    similarly ,kp will be divided as a new hazara province will have to be made.The balochs will have to give up their province for the pashtun people who’ll have a new province of their own.

    but first of all of utmost urgency is a new province from what is today’s sindh for the oppressed & persecuted muhajir community.Recommend

  • asim khan
    Mar 14, 2011 - 2:55PM

    please prime minister give the urduspeaking,memon,gujrati people of sindh a new province of their own also.please include a new province made from sindh’s division in your manifesto also.Recommend

  • SRK
    Mar 14, 2011 - 3:06PM

    just a lolly pop!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Gill
    Mar 14, 2011 - 5:30PM

    This is an attempt by luring south Panjab people to vote for them and they should then form the Sariaki province and then keep doing the same they has beend doing in the last 65 years. These Gillani’s and Qureshis have ruled the Multan belt for years. They have been occupying important ministries in almost all the past governments, but they have done nothing. When ever you go to Multan, it is the same city with the same old infrastructure, the centuries old look!. Now they want to fool people in the name of new province. Recommend

  • anyonymous
    Mar 15, 2011 - 3:19AM

    A pathetic attempt to cater support from Punjab. Mannn,,,these PPP politicians are now even lacking in the fundamentals of lying!Recommend

  • PakistaniCanadian
    Mar 15, 2011 - 7:00AM

    For all those talking about a separate province for the urdu speaking community; you can’t scare people into creating something for which there is no demand. The urdu speaking community of Pakistan living in Karachi, Hyderabad, etc realize that Sindh is resource rich. By carving another province for themselves, they will ultimately lose out on all the Thar coal reserves, and the resources from the gas fields. Until the urdu speaking community demand a separate province, it is utterly pointless to discuss giving them one.

    Similarly, there would be no need to break up Balochistan because nobody is demanding a separate province there. In fact, the only province where we see widespread demand for a separate province/s is Punjab. Think about that. Recommend

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