The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are learnt to have agreed to carve out new provinces in southern Punjab and Hazara region in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Senior Minister and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, while speaking to the media at his residence here on Saturday, said that a commission would soon be set up to chalk out modalities to create the new federating entities.
Elahi said that there was a consensus between the PML-Q and the PPP regarding the establishment of two new provinces. “We (the PML and the PPP) have agreed to establish two new provinces in the country and (have also agreed to) set up a commission to look into soon.”
Asked if he was talking about the Seraiki province, the former Punjab chief minister said “No, its name will be South Punjab, not Seraiki province.” Similarly, he said that there was a need to establish a Hazara province, keeping in view the demand of the people.
Buoyed by his new-formed alliance with the PPP, the veteran politician said that there would be a seat adjustment with the PPP in Punjab in the next elections. “The PPP and the PML-Q will go for the seat adjustment not just in Punjab, but throughout Pakistan,” he said, adding: “This is a solid political alliance which will go beyond the upcoming budget and beyond the expiry of the current government’s term.”
The PML-Q netted 14 ministries, including the senior minister rank in a power-sharing deal with the PPP that left their arch rivals, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), stunned. The estranged Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) also joined the cabinet once again to provide the PPP-led coalition a much-needed boost just before the upcoming budget. “We are in touch with Maulana Fazlur Rehman who has expressed that he would be up for rejoining the coalition,” said Elahi.
The alliance was formed at a perfect time for the PPP as the ruling party was struggling to pull together numbers in the National Assembly required for the passage of the budget.
Tracing back the development, Elahi said that he and his party had been in talks with the PML-N for a long time, to achieve a merger of the leagues, however, a statement from the PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had shattered the prospects.
“At a press conference, the PML-N demonstrated great arrogance by cursing those who sit with the PML-Q. That single incident changed our minds and we called off the negotiations,” said Elahi.
He said that the PPP was also in talks with the PML-N for a pre-budget alliance.
“The PML-N was ready to dump opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar and provide the numbers needed to pass the budget but in the end, the PPP preferred PML-Q,” said Elahi.
The PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said it was extremely shameful for such a responsible man of the PML to issue such a baseless statement. He said that over the past few months, the PML-N has been in touch with President Asif Ali Zardari.
He said that the PPP should have given more thought to its new alliance with the PML-Q which has turned (its back) on its mentor, former president Pervez Musharraf. He said that the PML-Q would also leave the PPP if necessary because they (the PPP had) only opted for the alliance because of their personal interest.
The PML’s breakaway unification bloc’s senior leader Mian Atta Muhammad Khan Maneka told The Express Tribune that the Chudhrys of Gujrat have ruled over the province for five years and were as empowered in the federal government as they were during the Musharraf regime. He said he could not understand why the Chaudhrys would support the idea of creating new provinces, adding that they (the Chaudhry of Gujrat) had consistently been ruling out the possibility of bifurcating Punjab.
Meanwhile, Elahi added that the local bodies elections would be held in Punjab soon and if his party came in to power, they would restore the old local government system.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.