‘New provinces for better admin, not on linguistic grounds’

Nauman Tasleem April 16, 2010

LAHORE: There is a need to establish new provinces but the criteria should be better public administration and not linguistic affiliations, representatives of most political parties have claimed.

The PML-N and PML-Q have already consented to the possibility following the protests in the Hazara division over the name ‘Khyber Pukthunkwa’.

PML-N central leader Siddiqul Farooq has told The Express Tribune that PML-N would not object to any proposal of making new provinces in order to enhance public administration.

However, he said that it was not an easy task and would require some time.

“We would require separate governors, IGs, CMs, Secretariats, High Courts and other government departments,” Farooq said. He added that if all political parties agree they could sit down and rewrite the constitution to provide more autonomy to the provinces. But he rejected the idea that the whole exercise could be completed in three to four months.

Deputy opposition leader in Punjab assembly and PML-Q leader Muhammad Yar Hairaj said that it was unjust that provinces keep on spending most of the funds in a few districts while ignoring the rest. He quoted the example of southern districts of Punjab and claimed that only Rs5 billion out of a total Rs175 billion development funds have so far been allocated for them, in the current fiscal year.

“These injustices lead to linguistic biases and cause terrorism,” Hairaj said.

Punjab could be divided into at least four provinces - Potohar, Lahore, Bahawalpur and DG Khan (Sarikistan), according to Hairaj.

Muhammad Ali Durrani, member of the Muttahida Muhaz Bahawalpur and former information minister during Musharraf era, pointed out that the population of Punjab was around 80 million, which was more than many countries. He alleged that a few people have held hostage the entire province.

Political analyst Rasool Baksh Rais has said that political parties have opened up a Pandora box by renaming NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkwa.

“Minority groups can demand provinces for themselves on linguistic lines,” Rais said. He added that more provinces would not lead to better administration unless we share the resources equally amongst them all.