ISLAMABAD: A ‘Balochistan-like situation’ could emerge if two new provinces — Hazara and South Punjab — were not created ‘immediately’, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) warned on Monday.
Addressing a news conference at the National Press Club, MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar, flanked by Haider Abbas Rizvi, other members of parliament and the party’s central executive committee, said the creation of the provinces are the ‘need of the hour’, in order to remove a sense of deprivation amongst the people of the two regions.
The 20th constitutional amendment bill has been tabled in the National Assembly, which seeks the creation of new provinces, Sattar added. He said that on the instructions of their chief Altaf Hussain, MQM became the first party to include in its manifesto the demand for the creation of a province in Punjab and Hazara.
Sattar said that the creation of ‘one or more’ provinces in Punjab as well as the creation of a Hazara province has become ‘unavoidable’, because it is necessary for the political and economic solidarity of Pakistan. The latter, he said, was only possible by making the people stakeholders in the political process.
The resources of South Punjab, Hazara
Both South Punjab and Hazara are blessed with natural resources, Sattar highlighted, adding that it was regrettable that in spite of fertile land and cotton and sugarcane crops, there was ‘not a single engineering or agricultural university’ in the south of the province.
Hazara Division, he said, was likewise full of minerals and forests, but neither of the regions had been given their due rights. In order to give these regions a constitutional identity, Sattar emphasised, there should be a referendum. The referendum would decide whether one or more provinces should be created in South Punjab. The MQM leader also urged other political parties to ‘join hands with the MQM in this struggle’.
MQM chalks out a plan
Sattar also provided details of the MQM’s proposed vision of a Hazara province. According to Sattar, the proposed province will consist of six districts: Mansehra, Abbottabad, Kohistan, Haripur, Batagram and Torghar.
Replying to a question as to whether the MQM was interested in making Karachi a province, Sattar said the administrative affairs of the city were running ‘very smoothly’, and there was no need to make it a province.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.