Following in the footsteps of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), the PML-Zia on Tuesday submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly for the restoration of provincial status of Bahawalpur, leaving the ruling party in the assembly in a fix.
PML-Zia Parliamentary Leader in the Punjab Assembly MPA Chaudhry Shahid Anjum told The Express Tribune that his party wants the restoration of provincial status of Bahawalpur before one unit (in 1954).
The PML-Q on August 5 submitted a resolution notice in the Punjab Assembly regarding the formation of a new province for the people of South Punjab.
While the PML-Q has demanded a separate province for South Punjab including Bahawalpur, the PML-Zia submitted the resolution only for Bahawalpur.
The PML-N on August 8 had decided to support the formation of new provinces in the country on administrative basis and demanded that the federal government form a constitutional commission in this regard.
However, sources in the party told The Express Tribune that the two resolutions in Punjab Assembly have left the PML-N in a fix on how to tackle both resolutions.
Sources said that PML-N fears that rejection of the resolutions could possibly harm the party vote bank in South Punjab while admission could lead to legal complications. According to assembly officials, the speaker has yet to make a decision and is expected to do so today (Wednesday).
PML-Q’s resolution stated that the Punjab government had failed to address core issues of South Punjab, which should, therefore, be given a separate status of province.
Sources in the PML-N told The Express Tribune that although all political parties know that resolutions about alterations in provincial boundaries are not admissible, the party is still hesitant on rejecting it. They said that senior party leaders fear that if the resolution is rejected, the opposition would take the opportunity to malign the PML-N before the people of South Punjab.
Prior to the session, opposition parties including Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa have already started playing up the situation through the media, saying that the Punjab government is ‘going to kill the resolution’.
Assembly officials said that if the speaker admits the resolutions, it would not entertain them according to the rules of the Punjab Assembly procedure. Sources said that although PML-N through this strategy might benefit by saving its vote bank in South Punjab, it would be in clear violation of the constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.