The ruling party will press for formation of one province in southern Punjab only, with its headquarters at Bahawalpur, as opposed to opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s proposal of two separate provinces.
To this end, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari has taken his party’s lawmakers, particularly those hailing from South Punjab including former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani, into confidence, sources have told The Express Tribune.
According to sources, President Zardari has convinced Gilani that the provincial headquarters of the proposed South Punjab province will be established at Bahawalpur division, while an industrial zone will be established in Multan.
Gilani has also been in favour of one South Punjab province, and has been opposed to restoration of Bahawalpur to its provincial status.
Sources said President Zardari, a few days ago, invited the leader of the movement for restoration of Bahawalpur province, Nawab Salahuddin Khan Abbasi, to the Presidency and convinced him to step back from his stance in exchange for a lucrative package, including the governorship of the South Punjab province.
Sources added that President Zardari also called a meeting of party workers from Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar on August 3 at the Presidency, and took them into confidence over the creation of one province.
One of the participants of the meeting, PPP’s provincial lawmaker Chaudhry Shaukat Mehmood Basra, confirmed that the party’s proposal is for creation of one South Punjab province, with its headquarters at Bahawalpur.
Basra said President Zardari has urged them to expedite their efforts in forcing the Punjab government to nominate two MPAs for the formation of a commission on the new province.
Despite being officially asked by the Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza around 10 days ago, the Punjab government has yet to nominate two MPAs from the Punjab Assembly to the commission.
Basra said the opposition benches will force the Punjab Assembly Speaker to nominate the two MPAs when the assembly is called into session after Eid.
President Zardari had sent a reference to Speaker NA on May 31, for constitution of a commission for creation of two provinces in southern Punjab. The commission will comprise six MNAs, six Senators and two MPAs from PA.
Asked how the commission members would develop a consensus over formation of only one South Punjab province when the commission’s mandate calls for two, Basra said the president told them that the commission members would be asked to form one province only.
Meanwhile, PML-N’s MNA from Bahawalpur Mian Saud Majeed said it was impossible for the PPP to abandon the restoration of Bahawalpur as a separate province. He said PML-N will not budge from their demand for two provinces in southern Punjab.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ