Punjab Assembly (PA) Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal has decided to demand of the federal government to increase the number of PA members in a commission formed to carve out two new provinces in Punjab from two to six.
The PA is yet to nominate two of its MPAs for the 14-member commission, which comprises six MNAs and six Senators.
The National Assembly speaker on Thursday notified 12 members for the commission and reminded the PA speaker to send in his nominations.
The speaker, during informal talks with lawmakers on Friday, said that it was unjust that Punjab, the province from which two new provinces are to be carved out, has been asked to nominate only two members as compared to six each from the NA and the Senate.
He said he would reply to the NA speaker, asking the federal government to increase the number of Punjab Assembly members on the federal panel.
The speaker’s public relations officer confirmed the development and said that Punjab should be given more representation.
Sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that party chief Nawaz Sharif would make a decision on the issue after Eid.
The Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, while notifying the names of six MNAs and six Senators, had asked its coalition partners to represent themselves in the commission, which provoked the PML-N to raise its voice against it.
The six Senators nominated for the commission are PML-N’s Rafique Rajwana, PPP’s Sughra Imam and Farhatullah Babar, Awami National Party’s Haji Adeel, PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha and JUI-F’s Ghafoor Haidri.
The six MNAs are PML-N’s Mian Saud Majeed, Tehmina Daultana, PPP’s Jamshed Dasti, Ali Musa Gilani and Sheikh Arif, and MQM’s Farooq Sattar.
Earlier during a press conference, Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan demanded the inclusion of two more provinces, Hazara and Fata, under the commissions’ mandate.
Sources close to the PA speaker said that his demand to increase the number of MPAs is PML-N’s plan B, if Nisar’s demand is not accepted. Out of the 12 lawmakers chosen for the commission, two MNAs and one senator belong to the PML-N.
Sources said that if the PA speaker’s demand of six MPAs is met by the federal government, he would nominate all six MPAs from the PML-N, increasing the party’s members in the commission from three to nine.
On May 31, President Asif Ali Zardari sent a reference to the NA speaker calling for the constitution of a commission to look into issues relating to the creation of two new provinces, Multan and Bahawalpur, in Punjab and to initiate the process of amendments to the Constitution for the purpose.
The commission would submit its report to the speaker as well as to the prime minster within 30 days of its notification in the official gazette. This will be followed by an amendment to the Constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.