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8 legislators demand new province in Punjab

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Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar along with seven lawmakers have parted ways with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and are demanding a new province, citing discrimination against southern Punjab and apparent inequality within the province as the driving reasons.  

The leader of these “South Punjab” legislators Khusro Bakhtiar has presented a single point agenda to create a new province in South Punjab. The disgruntled PML-N defectors insisted that the demand for the new province is not a new one. “It is our right, which our ancestors demanded and our next generation will also make the same demand”

They have decided to launch a South Punjab Front’ movement, which will carry its message to the people of Pakistan through media and by getting in contact with voters in respective constituencies of its supportive legislators. The legislators claim the motive behind this movement is to secure the future of South Punjab. They accuse the incumbent government of PML-N of ignoring the rights of the people in the region.

The timing of this late move depicts that raising a slogan for the new province is merely a political gimmick, to allow smooth departure from the party without hurting the sentiments of people or losing vote bank.

This movement is initiated for the most deprived region of the province Punjab, claim the legislators. Despite the fact that it has a 46-member national assembly, surprisingly, they are represented in Senate with only one seat. The group expects that more MNA’s will join their movement and they are ready to talk with any party, which acknowledges their demand.

The group which may culminate into a party wants to pass a new legislation [for the creation of new province] in the first session of the next government. They have threatened to go apex court, if the next government does not abide by their demand.

Read more: Zardari aims to make Sindh a model province after winning 2018…

Who is Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar?

Bakhtiar had recently joined the hands with Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI’s) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen amid the buzz that former will soon defect to PTI. Both the leaders reportedly purchased Hamza Sugar Mills for Rs 27 billion last month beating a Rs 23 billion bid from Chaudhry Munir, a relative of Maryam Nawaz.

Khusro Bakhtiar was elected as an independent candidate in 2013 elections from NA-194 Rahim Yar Khan-III and later joined PML-N.  Previously, he was unsuccessful on the same seat on PML-Q’s ticket, despite winning for the same party in 2002 general elections. He also served as a Minister of State for foreign affairs in Musharraf’s regime.

Legislators continue to leave PML-N & PPP for PTI

The dissolution process of PML-N, though, started a while ago, but, recently, it has taken off more vigorously. Apparently, journalists have stopped taken account of a number of people entering the much-favored Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI), across the country.

This ongoing streak of disgruntled politicians has continued for some time now. The latest buzz is that Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan is in talks with the PTI leaders through the backdoor channel. But, there has not been any formal development in this regard.

Despite the meeting with Punjab Chief Minister and PML-N President, Shehbaz Sharif, differences between the disgruntled Nisar and his party are yet to be resolved. PML-N lawmaker Ramesh Kumar has also joined PTI citing party’s foul language and confrontational politics against judiciary and institutions. In his press conference, along with Imran Khan, he expressed a desire that Nisar will join the party too.

The legislators claim the motive behind this movement is to secure the future of South Punjab. They accuse the incumbent government of PML-N of ignoring the rights of the people in the region.

Last year a number of lawmakers along with their workers joined PTI. Among those was the former CM Sindh Liaquat Jatoi deserted the PML-N to join PTI. A well-known political ally of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, one of the founding members of PPP and seasoned politician from PPP Ghulam Mustafa Khar also decided to end his long association with PPP for PTI.

Similarly, a Close aide of co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari Noor Alam joined PTI in May 2017. Moreover, PPP’s, Babar Awan, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Nazar Gondal also joined the PTI last year. In February, PML-N’s member National Assembly (NA) Mian Tariq Mahmood and Member Provincial Assembly Mian Mazhar from Gujranwala joined PTI. On March 2, Dr. Nisar Jatt from Faisalabad left his party, along with lower tier leadership to join hands with PTI.

Read more: Pakistan Zindabad Movement: Turning tide against the new wave of sub-nationalism

In last 48-hours- Eight legislators left PML-N

In last 48-hours, eight legislators from Punjab, Sindh, and Baluchistan have parted ways with the ruling party includingBilal Virk, a member of NA from Nankana Sahib, announced he was joining the rival PTI on March 6.

Moreover, three PML-N MNAs from Balochistan – Khalid Magsi, Jam Kamal, and Mir Dostain Khan Domki also announced their departure from the ruling party. They also accused the PML-N of failing to pay attention to the rudimentary requirements of the province.

Speculations are rife in the twin city that on April 29 during the public rally of Imran Khan at Minare Pakistan, 45-50 member national assembly will leave the ruling PML-N for  Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf. Even the GT-road lawmakers are becoming increasingly skeptical of Nawaz league’s position in Panama case.

Read more: Kurram IED blast: Signs of a new terror war to come

Role of hidden-hand?

In Pakistan’s politics, military backing plays a crucial rule and has become a norm and loosely speaking-a benchmark for ensuring a victory. The confrontational politics of Nawaz against institutions-military establishment and judiciary has made it clear thatsecurity establishment is not favoring PML-N as it apparently did prior to 2013 general elections.

PML-N is known to give an impression of military backing, this time around, it doesn’t appear to be the case, despite Shehbaz Sharif’s antics to please the COAS. The legislators are aware of the fact that tide is not in PML-N’s favor amid grave political and legal challenges facing Nawaz.

The timing of this late move depicts that raising a slogan for the new province is merely a political gimmick, to allow smooth departure from the party without hurting the sentiments of people or losing vote bank. Because, apparently, none of these legislators raised their voice against their concerns against the unfair treatment at the hands of Punjab government in last 5-years in NA.


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