LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League’s Quaid-i-Azam faction(PML-Q) has submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly supporting South Punjab’s demand that it be made into a separate province.
MPA Sardar Mohsin Khan Leghari submitted the resolution in assembly secretariat.
The move follows a statement by PML-Nawaz’s (PML-N) president Nawaz Sharif during his October 19 public address in DG Khan that he would support new provinces, including South Punjab and Bahawalpur.
The text of the resolution reads that the House unanimously suggests that federal government amend the constitution to give South Punjab the status of a separate province.
Leghari said that the assembly secretariat had earlier termed a similar resolution a matter for the National Assembly and Senate since it requires an amendment to the constitution.
He said that according to Sub Article 4 of Article 239 of the constitution, both the National Assembly and Senate needed to pass a bill, with a two-thirds majority, in favour of formation of a new province. “Before the president signs the bill the relevant provincial assembly must also pass and endorse the bill passed by the National Assembly and Senate with a two-thirds majority as well,” he told The Tribune.
The PML-Q MPA added that the law is silent on the stage at which a provincial assembly could endorse the bill.
He was confident that if the Punjab Assembly passes the resolution, the bill would find an easy passage in the Centre.
Leghari said PML-Q had submitted the resolution more than a dozen times, “Every time, the secretariat rejected it over technicalities.” He said The Express Tribune that PML-Q’s resolution had made it on the agenda only once, on June 25, 2010, but the session was prorogued after initial discussion. He said that the resolution was a litmus test for the PML-N government. If it genuinely supports the demand for a separate province, the resolution will be on agenda at the next session.
Asked if it was appropriate for a political party to seek an amendment to the constitution without first making it a part of their manifesto prior to contesting the election, he said that the present situation was exceptional, since all parties in the Punjab Assembly appeared ready to recognise South Punjab as a new province.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.