News Desk |
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has said that the party will not back off from its demand for a new province even after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent rejection of the proposition.
MQM-P’s Deputy Convener Aamir Khan said that the party was set to table a bill for a new province in Sindh knowing that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has distanced itself from any move proposed to split Sindh into two provinces.
“It’s up to the PTI to reject or support the bill, but if they [PTI] choose to reject it, they will witness [the consequences] in the next elections,” Khan was quoted as saying by an English daily. “We [MQM-P] won’t withdraw from the demand of a separate province,” he said.
The MQM-P’s demand for a separate province and PTI’s disassociation with the same has triggered a new debate if Sindh split into two provinces? “Some friends become annoyed when we talk of a separate province in Sindh. Yes, we talk about the separation,” Khan emphasized.
If the people of urban Sindh are denied their rights and local government is deprived of its authority, he said, then they will demand a new province. During his media talk in Hyderabad, Khan said that MQM-P learned that Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently said his party will soon introduce a local government system which will make the creation of a new province irrelevant through devolution.
While questioning PTI’s stand over the creation of a province in Punjab but denying the same in Sindh, the MQM-P deputy convener said that PM Khan should first introduce the said local government system in Punjab, so as to put an end to the demand for a separate province in South Punjab. In addition, Khan reminded the premier that his party had won seats from Karachi and not from rural Sindh.
He tacitly spoke of leaving the coalition government formed with the ruling party in Sindh if PTI would not honor the two agreements, signed by PTI and MQM-P, before they formed the coalition. Meanwhile, while challenging the notion that Sindh has a 5,000-year-old history, he said Sindh never was a single province, as Khairpur, Hyderabad and Karachi were administered under separate dynasties.
PM Imran not in favor of creating new province in Sindh
On May 24, Prime Minister Imran Khan said there was no need for a new province in Sindh. “Sindh is and will remain intact,” said the prime minister while addressing the leaders of its coalition partner the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) at the Governor House on Friday.
PM Khan had clarified the statement of the Sindh governor regarding “formation of a new province on the administrative basis”. Recently, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail’s statement regarding the formation of a new province on an administrative basis drew condemnation from political parties as well as the civil society organizations.
Later, the Sindh governor backtracked from his statement, saying he had “not uttered such words to divide Sindh or create a new province”.
PTI MNAs introduce bill for South Punjab province
On May 14, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians introduced the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 as private member bill seeking the creation of the South Punjab province.
PTI members Makhdoom Syed Samiul Hassan Gillani and Sardar Nasarullah Khan Dareshak submitted the private member bill seeking amendments to Article 1, 51, 59, 106, 175A, 198 and 298 of the Constitution.
The amendment bill proposes that the province of South Punjab shall comprise territories of Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions having own provincial assembly and the high court. The PML-N had opposed the introduction of the amendment bill, saying the ruling party’s members wanted to take the credit as two similar bills had already been referred to the standing committee concerned.
PML-N member Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the PML-N was also in support of the creation of new provinces like Janubi Punjab. Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had said that it was his party’s government, which took initiative for the creation of Janubi Punjab province.
PML-N tables bill for two new provinces in the national assembly
In April, 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.
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.