Monday 20 May 2019
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The News - 5 days ago

Bogey of S Punjab once again raised for political point scoring

ISLAMABAD: Political point scoring on the bogey of creating south Punjab province has been revived once again apparently to distract public attention from burning subjects and questions.Just three weeks after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) moved a constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly calling for establishment of two provinces in Punjab - South Punjab and Bahawalpur -, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) embarked on the same path, demanding only South Punjab province, comprising Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan areas.However, the PTI has not sponsored the bill as the government legislation. Samiul Hassan Gillani, elected from Bahawalpur on the PTI ticket, has moved it in the National Assembly as a private member s bill.The way Foreign Minister and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has repeatedly talked about the bill and stressed its quick approval shows that the proposed legislation has been owned by the ruling party. Nobody else from the PTI has campaigned for it with such force and verve. There is no doubt that the PTI wants to create south Punjab province and the instant bill is meant for it. It demonstrates out sincerity, PTI leader Sadaqat Abbasi told The News. He said that the PTI had promised with the south Punjab front, which merged into it, that when voted to power it would work for making the new province in Punjab. All parliamentary parties should support the bill so that the new province is set up without any delay. However, senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that the PTI s bill was unneeded when his party had already moved a comprehensive bill for establishing south Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces. He said that the PTI tried to copy the PML-N s proposed legislation and counseled it to vote for its bill. We will talk to other parliamentary parties to garner support for it. Just before the last general elections, the south Punjab front comprising PML-N defectors joined the PTI with the latters province to create the new province after coming to power. However, nothing credible and substantial has been done as the PTI and its allies lack the required parliamentary support to approve the constitutional amendment.A PTI MP has tabled the bill now to make it a topic of public debate at a time when the price hike and deal with the International Monetary Fund are hectically under discussion.Principal political parties struggle for point scoring apart, none of them has the requisite numbers in the Senate as well as the National Assembly to approve such crucial constitutional bill. Considering the prevailing parliamentary and political tension and confrontation, there is hardly any possibility that the key players will agree to this bill. Under Article 239, a bill to create a new federating unit requires the two-thirds majority in the Senate, National Assembly and the legislature of the province out of which the new unit is to be carved out.The ruling coalition s government in Punjab is dependent on a few votes and same is the scenario at the federal level. In this situation, moving of a constitutional amendment bill in either House is nothing but a political attention grabber attempt and to divert people to engage in such issues.

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