Tuesday 21 May 2019
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The News - 6 days ago

Govt seeks Opp support on S Punjab province

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday sought cooperation from all opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party in the creation of the South Punjab province.Addressing a press conference here at Circuit House, he said a number of people from the PML-N want to create the South Punjab province. Some friends from the PML-N are still entangled in the bill on the Bahawalpur province, presented during the past government, he said. He urged them to review their decision and cooperate with the incumbent government for the creation of the South Punjab province.How is it possible to make Bahawalpur a province, which consists of only three districts? Qureshi posed a question and stated that the PML-N should adopt a practical approach in this regard. For the creation of the South Punjab province, a two-thirds majority is required, Qureshi said and added the PPP has decided to extend cooperation for the province. The PTI contacted the PPP and its leadership gave a positive hint, he revealed.In the coming session, the PTI leaders would meet Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar and Raja Pervez Ashraf to discuss the South Punjab province, he said and added they would try their best to pursue other political parties including PML-N to create a consensus on the new province which would strengthen federation further.Qureshi thanked Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Planning Minister Khusro Bukhtiar, Mir Balukh Sher Mazari, Nasrullah Dareshak, Rana Qasim Noon, Samiul Hassan Gilani, Pir Zahoor Hussain Qureshi and others for carrying out consultancy in the preparation of the bill for the South Punjab province. He informed that amendments to some articles of the constitution including Articles 1, 51, 59, 106, 198, and 218 would be required for creating the province. The amendments to some clauses of these articles will help address legal issues and explain the name of the province, objectives and reason, members for senate, provincial assembly seats and establishment of a separate high court.The Foreign Minister thanked Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar for earmarking funds in the upcoming budget for the South Punjab Secretariat. To a query about the establishment of the South Punjab Secretariat, Qureshi observed that the site for secretariat would soon be discussed. To a question about PML-Q leader Tariq Bashir Cheema s opinion on the province, Qureshi observed that creation of the South Punjab province is part of the PTI manifesto. People from South Punjab gave mandate to the PTI for a new province, he said and added Cheema was aware of the PTI manifesto when they (PML-Q) entered into an alliance with the PTI. The PTI will follow its manifesto and continue to move forward.To another question about amnesty scheme, the foreign minister said it is not an amnesty scheme. Rather it is an asset declaration 2019 scheme. He said the scheme is not meant for generating revenue but it aims to document the economy. The scheme will also help improve tax base, he said and added the PTI is offering an opportunity to people to declare their assets by paying four per cent tax only. Similarly, the persons who want to hold their properties abroad would pay another 2 per cent for availing benefit from the scheme.He, however, warned that the government would activate Benami Act and strict action would be taken which include confiscation of properties. The foreign minister observed that the scheme would serve as economic opening and help get rid of the IMF on a permanent basis.He clarified that those who had been enjoying public office for the last 10 years would not take advantage of the scheme.Responding to a question about levying more taxes in the coming budget, Qureshi assured that burden would not be put on lower segments of the society. The government would continue to offer subsidy on electricity and gas to give relief to the common man, he added.About security of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the FM said Maulana is a respectable politician and the government is duty-bound to give him security. He said Maulana s security has been rationalized only. He, however, stated that if they themselves pick arms for security, it would lead to fanning private militia which is negation of the National Action Plan (NAP).To a question about India, he observed that they would try to engage new Indian government in talks. About expatriation of illegal Pakistanis in America, he said the government is reviewing individual verification for all these persons. On Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, Qureshi said Pakistan wishes to avail gas but Iran is under sanctions. Pakistan needs huge funds to execute the project and international financial institutions did not provide funds due to sanctions on Iran, he added.About Pak-China relationship, especially the issue of marriages, the FM observed that Pakistan is in contact with Chinese government on the issue. He said they are evolving a strategy with China so that mutual relationships should not be affected. He said some powers want to damage Pak-China relationships.To a question about the new spate of terror, he said some powers do not want to see CPEC flourishing. All political parties in the country have consensus on nuclear programme, CPEC and credible minimum deterrence, he added.Muhammad Anis adds: Reacting to Shah Mehmood s statement, the PML-N asked the government to stop befooling people in the name of South Punjab.The PML-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal said Shah Mehmood was fooling people for the sake of political gains. The PML-N leader said the foreign minister should remember the fact that the N-League had already introduced a bill for creation of Janubi Punjab province in the National Assembly which was pending with the concerned standing committee of the House. He said the same bill was opposed by the PTI. Instead of introducing a new bill, the minister should ask the government representatives to expedite work on the existing bill, tabled in House. He maintained that it was only the PML-N which could fulfil promises made before the Parliament and with masses.It may be pointed out here that two PTI parliamentarians on Monday introduced a Constitution (Amendment) bill for creation of South Punjab province comprising Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions.

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