Despite Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa’s claims to the contrary, the Pakistan Peoples Party appears to have done no work on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s proposal to create a new province in the Seraiki belt in southern Punjab, sources told The Express Tribune.
President Asif Ali Zardari had formed a 20-member committee to formulate a new PPP manifesto for the 2013 elections and asked them to incorporate Gilani’s proposal for a new province in south Punjab, which he had made in a speech near Multan on March 13.
The president had convened a meeting of the committee in April where he asked them to expedite work on the proposals for new provinces in the country.
PPP sources told The Express Tribune, however, that no further meetings have been convened of the committee nor has any work been done to create a detailed proposal. The sources added that the committee appears to be dysfunctional.
The internal disarray stands in sharp contrast to the claims made by the PPP leaders, including the prime minister. The Punjab governor, for example, said on Tuesday that the PPP
was almost ready with a detailed proposal for a south Punjab province. The PPP lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly have already sought to initiate debate in the provincial legislature on the matter.
Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, who is also a member of the manifesto committee, declined to comment on the matter.
Another member of the committee who wished to remain anonymous said that, in the two meetings that have taken place thus far, it has been decided that only two lines about the Seraiki province would be included in the manifesto. He said that further details about the new province would be decided at future meetings.
The committee member claimed that the president had asked the prime minister to submit his initial proposal, though he claimed Gilani had not yet done so and has not convened the next session of the committee either.
The manifesto committee is a virtual who’s who of the ruling party. It includes former law minister Babar Awan, Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro, Textile Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, disgraced former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Sherry Rehman, Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan, and Taj Haider, among others.
Professor Ejaz Hussain Gilani, who is also a member of the manifesto committee, said that a lot of issues need to be worked out, including the boundaries of the new province as well as whether a Hazara province should also be supported.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.