PML-N submits bill seeking two new provinces

Suggests various constitutional amendments forgiving Bahawalpur and South Punjab provincial status


Khalid Mehmood January 29, 2019
Ahsan Iqbal. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has submitted in the National Assembly a constitutional amendment bill seeking formation of two more provinces –Bahawalpur and South Punjab – by dividing up the largest province of Punjab.

According to the bill, the proposed province of Bahawalpur – which was a sovereign state in the united India and even after creation of Pakistan – will consist of the current Bahawalpur administrative division. The proposed South Punjab province will consist of the Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan divisions.

The amendment bill – tagged as Constitutional (Amendment) Act 2019 – was submitted on Monday by PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Rana Sanaullah and Abdur Rehman Kanju, with signature of the NA secretary.

It proposes that through an amendment in the Article 1 of the Constitution, words ‘Bahawalpur’ and ‘South Punjab’ provinces be added in the Constitution.  The bill also seeks to amend Article 51 for creation of National Assembly and provincial assembly seats for the new provinces.

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The bill says the Bahawalpur province will have 18 seats in the National Assembly, including 15 general seats and three reserved for women.

The amendment bill states that total NA seats from Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Balochistan and Sindh will remain 3, 20 and 75 respectively; however, the number of NA seats from Punjab will decrease from the existing 174 to 117. South Punjab province will contribute 38 NA seats.

The MNAs elected from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the women members elected on the reserved seats in the Punjab Assembly will continue to work as lawmakers till end of the current legislatures’ tenure.  This clause will end after the duration of the current legislatures, it says.

It has been said in the constitutional amendment that appropriate amendments will be made in the Article 59 of the Constitution.  The number of provincial assembly seats in Bahawalpur will be 39, of which 31 would be general seats, seven reserved for women and one for non-Muslims.

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The total number of seats in Balochistan Assembly will be 65, K-P 145, Punjab 252 and Sindh Assembly will have 168 seats. The total number of South Punjab Assembly seats will be 80, of which 64 would be general seats, 14 seats reserved for women and two for non-Muslims.

If the bill is approved, an amendment will be made in the Article 154 of the Constitution through which a national commission will be constituted for the new provinces so that their limits and other affairs can be determined. An amendment will also be made in Article 175-A to establish principal seats of the Supreme Court and the high courts in these provinces.

It has been said in the constitutional amendment bill that the Punjab Assembly on May 9, 2012 passed resolutions for Bahawalpur and South Punjab provinces separately and these resolutions were approved unanimously. The people of these regions have been struggling for new provinces for quite some time.

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