KARACHI: Representatives of different political parties stressed on the need to establish a separate Seraiki province, while speaking at a seminar titled "Seraiki Province."
The seminar was organised by Servants of Siraiki Society and Siraiki Awami Sangat Pakistan, at a local hotel in Karachi on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, Senators and members of the National Assembly (MNA) expressed views that a balanced federation was the need of the hour and forming a separate Seraiki province, along linguistic and cultural lines, would help strengthen the federation. They also pointed out that the construction of Kalabagh Dam, which couldn't be initiated due to trust deficit between Punjab and other three provinces, could be materialised by the inclusion of Mianwali district in the proposed Seraiki province.
No need for new province in Sindh post-new LG system: PM
Representatives from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have time and again voiced reservations regarding the construction of Kalabagh Dam in Mianwali district, seeing it as a threat to smaller provinces. Political representatives attending the seminar said that the inclusion of Mianwali in the proposed Seraiki province would allay these fears.
Additionally, MNA from Bhakkar, Dr Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla said that Bhakkar District is not considered a part of the South Punjab despite having a majority of Seraiki speaking people. He said that Bhakkar district was the most neglected area in Punjab after Rajanpur, and recommended that Bhakkar should also be included in the proposed Seraiki province along with Mianwali.
Dr Dhandla also said that Seraiki region had been badly neglected in the past and it was high time that a separate Seraiki province should be created to end the sense of deprivation prevalent among Seraiki people.
Carving out a separate South Punjab province was one of the pledges in the long list of promises made by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during its election campaign in 2018. As a result, a considerable number of parliamentarians from South Punjab, belonging to the then ruling Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), had joined PTI. Moreover, Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaaz, a group mostly comprising former PML-N's members from South Punjab, also merged with PTI before 2018 elections. It also included Usman Buzdar, now the chief minister of Punjab.
PTI's assurances during the elction campaign and appointment of Buzdar as the provincial chief minister of Punjab had raised hopes for the creation of a separate Seraiki province. However, progress in this regard has been slow since then and little has been done by the ruling party to fulfill its promise.
Speaking in this regard, MNA from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Dr Shahida Rehmani said that the PTI leadership did not seem sincere to resolve the issue. She added that the Seraiki region had been neglected since decades and PPP would continue to support the creation of the new province in the Senate and National Assembly.
Echoing these thoughts, Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar from Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) said that there was no harm in creating new provinces on the basis of national identity and a separate province should be created to mitigate people's problems in the region.
He further assured that BAP will continue to support the creation of Seraiki province in the Senate and National Assembly.
However, journalist Shahid Jatoi stressed that the new province should include 21 districts from Punjab and two from Khyber Pakhunkhwa, or else the issue would remain unresolved. Adding to this statement, Seraiki Awami Sangat Pakistan President Mushtaq Ahmed Faridi said that the new province should be named Siraiki province and not South Punjab.
Taj Haider of PPP also attended the seminar. He said that the struggle for the new province seemed to be becoming a reality now, as all political forces were ready to create the Seraiki province.
Haider added that the creation of the new province would not affect Pakistan negatively, but would strengthen the federation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2019.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ