Home Global Village PTI demands a referendum for a new province in Punjab

PTI demands a referendum for a new province in Punjab

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Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi has called for a referendum in Southern Punjab to decide on a new province in Punjab. PTI Leader held a press conference with Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) defectors from South Punjab and supported their demand for creation of a new province in Punjab.

The group along with Qureshi exerted that Siraiki region/South Punjab is comprised of three-divisions and has 44 National Assembly seats. “The people of this land also deserve to be given their rights and identity by creating a new province.”

This region produces 85 percent of country’s cotton and 69 percent of country’s exports, but, still lags behind, which is shocking and highly questionable.  PTI has acknowledged the sense of deprivation among the people of Siraiki belt over blatant discrimination from Lahore based politicians.

PTI is believed to be more likely to the party which will home these turncoats. PTI may have shown a political consensus with defectors, but, how far it can help this group largely depends on the outcome of next general elections.

Mahmood expressed confidence that an overwhelming majority of people from Siraiki belt would vote for making a new province, if the government decided to hold a referendum. It will assert the stance of the people in this region, he said.

Making reference to the statement of outspoken and controversial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah who had said that the demand for the new province was coming from the only bunch of people. He challenged the ruling party leaders to hold a referendum to know, what do the people of the area want?

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Nevertheless, in a guarded approach, he said, the new province should not be created based on linguistic reasons, rather, administrative reasons should be the basis for this, because, Punjab is a huge province with a population of over 100 million people, therefore, it becomes practically impossible to govern the province ably.

Qureshi suggested that Punjab should replicate the policy formulated by Pakistan People Party (PPP) in Sindh. Citing the example of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he said, he allocated the quota of jobs between rural [interior] Sindh and urban areas to facilitate and give equal opportunities to people from across the province. Ruling party should have allocated jobs to people from this area, he said.

The group along with Qureshi exerted that Siraiki region/South Punjab is comprised of three-divisions and has 44 National Assembly seats. “The people of this land also deserve to be given their rights and identity by creating a new province.”

Some political commentators claimed that some funds of the region were called back, even after allocation to south Punjab. These are the reasons for acute poverty, sense of deprivation and lack of rudimentary developments in the region which has affected the people for all sphere of life. Moreover, Shehbaz Sharif did not stick to his claim of creating Mini Secretariat in the region and completely failed to address the issues.

In the past, PTI chairman Imran Khan has voiced his concerns over the expenditure of big chunk of Punjab budget only on the development of provincial capital-Lahore. Khan claimed that 55% of the Punjab budget is spent on Lahore alone and alleged that PML-N government purposely pursues big money projects to make huge monetary gains through embezzlement and corruption.

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PPP has also supported the initiative and pledged to support the PML-N defectors. Bilawal Bhutto held a press conference on April 9 to extend support to deprived southern Punjab.

On April 9, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar along with seven lawmakers parted ways with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and demanded a new province citing discrimination against southern Punjab and apparent inequality within the province.

The dissent was declared to secure the future of next generation of South Punjab. A South Punjab Front’ movement was launched to carry its message to people of Pakistan through media and support of voters in respective constituencies.

Khan claimed that 55% of the Punjab budget is spent on Lahore alone and alleged that PML-N government purposely pursues big money projects to make huge monetary gains through embezzlement and corruption.

It’s a fact acknowledged across the world that smaller units are easy to govern and can be administratively more beneficial for people. The PML-N defectors believe that it will not be the party to any move to weaken the federation and will support any of the main political parties, once, its demands are approved.

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There is a consensus among the political analysts and commentators that this demand at the brink of 2018 general elections is merely a political gimmick, to appease the people of Siraiki belt. In fact, the group only changed loyalty to switch to a party which will win the next elections, having witnessed the turmoil in government ranks.

PTI is believed to be more likely to the party which will home these turncoats. PTI may have shown a political consensus with defectors, but, how far it can help this group largely depends on the outcome of next general elections.


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