Debate on new provinces sets off political firestorm

Published: January 6, 2012
With tempers flaring, deputy speaker forced to suspend NA proceedings for 20 minutes.PHOTO: APP/ FILE

With tempers flaring, deputy speaker forced to suspend NA proceedings for 20 minutes.PHOTO: APP/ FILE


Flaring tempers, dramatic walkouts, fresh alignments and chaos prevailed in the National Assembly on Thursday, triggered by a demand to hold a parliamentary debate on the creation of new provinces.

The situation deteriorated to a point where Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi was forced to suspend proceedings to calm tempers.

In the midst of it all, there were clear signs of detachment between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and one of its allies when debate began on carving new provinces out of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

The Awami National Party (ANP) – the government’s coalition partner, both at the centre and in K-P – vehemently opposed what seemed to be the federal government’s proposed method and formula for the division of the two provinces.  The stand taken by the ANP, which is the ruling party in K-P, brought it in line with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the ruling party of Punjab.

In another setback, one of the PPP’s stalwarts from Sindh staged a walkout from the lower house in a snub to his party’s support for a resolution moved by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

MNA Zafar Ali Shah of the ruling party said the MQM did not have the right to bring the resolution under the Constitution because any move to divide provinces must be originated in the provincial assembly.

On the other hand

Several MQM and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) members raised slogans slated with the word “debate” — supporting the creation of Seraiki and Hazara provinces.

Joining the chorus in no time, members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), including its minister Shah Jehan Yousuf and K-P President Amir Muqam, raised voices in favour of the new provinces.


When proceedings of the lower house managed to resume after a twenty-minute break, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan staged a walkout from the National Assembly with his colleagues saying, “Proceedings of the house were not being run under parliamentary norms.”

The PML-N’s stand

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said his party will not oppose creation of new federating units.

However, quoting Deputy Speaker Kundi’s Twitter status which supported the Seraiki province’s idea, Nisar said that a person with “personal interests in such issues” should not chair the lower house.

Kundi was chairing the National Assembly’s 37th session in absence of Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.


Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Nisar asked how can a party which has never had a single councillor in K-P or Punjab ask for new provinces in these regions with its leader “sitting in London”.

“MQM is the only party creating drama over the creation of new provinces,” he said while demanding the formation of a commission to create new provinces.

“The party’s terror can only stay on the people of Karachi… A party in Karachi cannot make provinces in other provinces.”


The ANP chief also criticised the MQM for supporting the creation of new provinces at a time the country was faced with a number of crises, such as energy shortages and price hikes.

“If you [MQM] hate Pakhtuns then how you can be sincere in your demands of a Hazara province,” Wali questioned.

MQM’s scathing response

Responding to the ANP and PML-N’s allegations, MQM parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar said, “His [Altaf Hussain] party is “Pakistan’s party.

“If we don’t have a seat in Punjab, then don’t forget that you don’t have any support in Sindh either.”


Speaking on floor of the House, the ANP chief opposed the debate on resolutions moved for creation of the new provinces in South Punjab and Hazara saying: “My party does not oppose a debate on the issue but members should have been intimated in advance about it,” he said.

He added, however, that the ANP wanted to refer the matter to the concerned provinces.

“They [provinces] will first pass a resolution with a two-third majority paving the way for presenting such a bill in Parliament.”

After significant uproar and dissent, Kundi finally allowed the debate to kick off.

MQM’s Sattar said, “New federating units should be created now or never. It’s time to consider the longstanding demand of the Seraiki and Hazara people.”

Later, PML-N MNA Sardar Mehtab Ahmad said: “We fully support the concept of creation of Seraiki and Hazara provinces.”

However, he added that this concept should also be extended towards more voices being raised for new provinces like Bahawalpur, Fata and Malakand division.

PML-Q Minister Yousuf and MNA Muqam claimed that the concept of the new provinces was initiated by their party. “With the creation of the new administrative units, distribution of resources will be balanced out.”

JUI leader Laiq Muhammad Khan then thanked the MQM and other political parties for initiating and supporting the resolution for creating a Hazara province.

He also exchanged harsh words with PML-N leader Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar on the issue — loudly alleging each other’s party for  ‘point scoring.

Meanwhile, PPP former minister Najamuddin Khan also staged a walkout when he was not given time by the chair for speaking on matter.

One-on-one with the PM

During the course of proceedings, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also discussed the issue of new provinces with deputy parliamentary leader of MQM, Haider Abbas Rizvi.

After having a one-on-one discussion for 10 minutes with Rizvi, Premier Gilani left the floor of the lower house. Religious Affairs Minister Khurshid Shah and MNA Jamshed Dasti also accompanied him. The house will continue its debate today.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (16)

  • sabeen siddiqui
    Jan 6, 2012 - 9:39AM

    if a new province are being made out of punjab,then a new province must also be made out of sindh for the people who migrated to sindh at the time of independence.


  • abdul jabbar
    Jan 6, 2012 - 9:40AM

    A new muhajir province should also be made in sindh.if punjab can be divided up,then why not sindh?


  • farhan dhedi
    Jan 6, 2012 - 9:42AM

    It is requested to the MQM to pay attention to the wishes of their voters in karachi and hyderbad and submit a resolution for the creation of a new province out of what is presently sindh province.


  • sick of this nonsense
    Jan 6, 2012 - 10:50AM

    @farhan dhedi:
    Unless you want to hurt the sentiments of Sindhi people this is not a good idea.


  • muhammad asad
    Jan 6, 2012 - 12:25PM

    @sick of this nonsense:

    why are the two parties from sindh campaigning the loudest for the break up of punjab? you can’t have double standards.breaking up punjab will hurt the sentiments of the punjabis just as much as the sindhis will hurt when sindh is broken up.


  • Parvez
    Jan 6, 2012 - 12:30PM

    Nothing but diversion tactics in order to keep the pot boiling.


  • Jan 6, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Looks like all other important issues are fixed in Pakistan.


  • Sadia
    Jan 6, 2012 - 1:02PM

    there should be new provinces in the Punjab and Sindh. but those should not be made on ethnic or linguistic basis. Pakistan is already divided into many nations and let there be no further divide.
    There should be referendum for new provinces as these politicians have no concern for the people they are just demanding it for political gains.

    and people who are demanding MQM to ask for making new province in sindh, they already want to make a province in their stronghold. and they are moving tectically.


  • Jan 6, 2012 - 2:54PM

    No new province on ethnic basis please!


  • Azmat
    Jan 6, 2012 - 3:50PM

    Sindh = 3 new provinces

    Punjab = 4 new provinces

    Baluchistan = 3 new provinces

    Khyber = 3 new provinces

    Problem solved


  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 6, 2012 - 6:07PM

    I am sure now that all the old parties just saying.
    we salute MQM and PTI for there support and stand for creation of south punjab and Hazara

  • a Pakistani
    Jan 6, 2012 - 11:49PM

    seraiki speaking people also live in northern sindh
    why not join those 4-5 districts with this “seraikistan”?

    punjab is the most well off province of pakistan…
    it is a dire stupidity to say that punjab has bad governance ..
    as for its hegemony in pakistani affairs…it is justified as punjab has 60% pakistani’s in it. along with it contributes 61.5% to national economy!

    **PPP how hard you try, u aint gonna win next elections!**Recommend

  • ProudPakistani
    Jan 7, 2012 - 12:13AM

    More provinces…Happier Pakistan..!!


  • Shahbaz Khan
    Jan 7, 2012 - 2:49AM

    All of a sudden, everyone is opposing the creation of new provinces on ethnic or linguistic basis. One wonders why these people supported giving NWFP an ethnically biased name, severely humiliating the sizeable non-pukhtoon communities of the province. PML-N, the largest parliamentary party from Hazara, is the biggest culprit in dividing the people of NWFP on linguistic lines by not blocking the prejudicial new name. The best way to move forward now is to accept the rights of smaller ethnic groups to govern themselves. The sooner we make Hazara and Seraiki provinces and chart out a road map for creation of other provinces, the better.


  • Huraira
    Jan 7, 2012 - 2:56AM

    Hazara and Seraiki state in the making.

    Next Target: Urban Sindh


    This is the one of the reason I admire MQM – They meant business. No BS talk !


  • rizwan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:05PM

    @sabeen siddiqui:
    dear sir the punjab is bieng divided due to the administrative problems that a person lives in sadiqabad how he reach to lahore and population is too much and only one chief minister can not run affairs effectively that case is not with sindh so be realistic and positive thinker always think about country and problems of people thenks


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