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MQM-P demands a separate urban province in Sindh

The MQM-P has said the party would continue its campaign for the rights of the urban Sindh and reiterated their demand to conduct a fresh census in Karachi and create a new urban province in Sindh.

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The MQM-P organised a rally on Thursday to mark its 37th Foundation Day at Karachi’s Nishtar Park where a large number of party workers and supporters were present. MQM-P leaders, according to the report, said the party would continue its campaign for the rights of the urban Sindh, and reiterated their demand to conduct a fresh census in Karachi and create a new urban province in Sindh.

The party’s convener, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, said their ancestors had created the whole of Pakistan but Zulfikar Ali Bhutto halved the country.

“Muhajir neighbourhoods were attacked as a punishment for standing with Fatima Jinnah,” he said, referring to the presidential election in the Ayub era and called for creating as many provinces as possible in the country in terms of population.

Siddiqui demanded that the government immediately announce a new census, allocate a budget for it and compile a transparent voters list in each constituency.

‘Drinking water not provided’

Kunwar Naveed Jameel, MQM-P senior deputy convener, said that General Yahya Khan was making Karachi a separate province but the Muhajir elders preferred to stay with Sindh at that time.

He accused the PPP’s provincial government of not providing drinking water to the residents of urban Sindh. “The Sindh government has occupied all the civic departments and entities for looting,” he alleged.

“Along with the provincial government, the federal government and institutions also complain that injustice has been done to the people of Karachi,” he said. “First, a biased quota system was implemented and then even according to the quota, jobs were not given to the urban residents.”

MQM-P proposes new provinces

In 2019, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement–Pakistan (MQM-P) submitted a bill in the National Assembly Secretariat for increasing the number of provinces in Pakistan to eight. The Bill is, if taken at administrative grounds, an interesting attempt to decentralize power in Pakistan. However, the country has a complex social organization that may raise several important questions if new provinces are created on administrative grounds.

The bill submitted by MQM-P legislator Kishwer Zehra calls for the creation of South Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces within the existing Punjab, as well as two provinces each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Sindh. The bill recommends that the existing KP be divided into a Hazara province and KP, while Sindh should be split into Northern Sindh and Southern Sindh.

Read more: No new provinces in Sindh: PM Imran Khan

The eight provinces proposed by the MQM-P would be Punjab, South Punjab, Bahawalpur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Hazara, Northern Sindh, Southern Sindh, and Balochistan. The bill calls for the total number of general and women’s seats in the NA to be increased from 332 to 335.

It provides a breakdown of NA seats if the changes are implemented: three for Islamabad, nine for Hazara, 20 for Balochistan, 32 for Southern Sindh, 38 for Southern Punjab, 43 for Northern Sindh, 55 for K-P, and 117 for Punjab.

MQM-P has also demanded an increase in Senate seats from 104 to 188, proposing eight seats for FATA, four for Islamabad, and 22 each for the eight provinces.

PML-N tables bill for two new provinces in the national assembly

In April 2019, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) tabled a bill in the National Assembly for the creation of two new provinces – Bahawalpur and South Punjab. PML-N’s senior leader Ahsan Iqbal had said that if the government was serious about establishing the two provinces in Punjab, the PML-N would support them unconditionally.

During elections, PTI had promised to divide Punjab into two provinces – central and south Punjab. However, the PML-N and PTI’s coalition partners; the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, wants the division three ways – central, south and Bahawalpur.

New Political Landscape

At the moment, Geo News reported that the Bahawalpur division has 15 seats in the Parliament, of which the city of Rahim Yar Khan has six, Bahawalpur five and Bahawalnagar has four. PML-N’s recent bill suggests keeping the existing administrative division of Bahawalpur and expanding its share in the National Assembly to 18 seats – 15 contestable and three reserved for women.

While South Punjab would have 38 seats – 31 general and seven for women. The latter province would comprise of Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan. On a provincial level, it continued, the Bahawalpur Assembly would have 39 members and south Punjab’s assembly would comprise of 80 members of the provincial assembly (MPAs), of which 64 will be on general seats, 14 on those reserved for women and two for non-Muslims.

Read more: PML-N, two coalition parties question PTI’s stand over new provinces

Among several challenges in creating province(s), the PTI government would require large resources and long-term adjustments. Reelections and who forms a government where would also be tough challenges that will come along with the new province(s), if the ruling party decides to go ahead during its five-year term.