Home Global Village South Punjab takes center stage as government, opposition try to woo voters

South Punjab takes center stage as government, opposition try to woo voters

Both the government and opposition parties have started throwing bait to lure in voters on their side owing to the fact that the region (South Punjab) sends as many as 46 lawmakers to the National Assembly and with such a majority, any party can pave its way to form the government after the forthcoming elections.

South Punjab
  • 34
    Shares

News Analysis |

The southern part of Punjab has once again gained prominence on the national scale ahead of the upcoming elections, to woo the voters in the region. Both the government and opposition parties have started throwing bait to lure in voters on their side owing to the fact that the region sends as many as 46 lawmakers to the National Assembly and with such a majority, any party can pave its way to form the government after the forthcoming elections.

What is the Government Doing?

The Punjab government, under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister, has recently restored the 20 percent job quota for the region so that the candidates hailing from the area can compete with their peers instead of contesting for job opportunities on the open merit.

Interestingly, the directives came during the meeting of cabinet which lasted for merely 30 minutes and apparently the decision was made in haste. The said percentage of job quota was enshrined in the 1973 Constitution to provide level playing field to the candidates.

Any political force which manages to attract the electable from south, can secure the victory in the upcoming elections and with the merger of JPSM, PTI seems to be enjoying the upper hand.

The government of PML-N, headed by Shehbaz Sharif had suspended the quota in 1997. After the suspension, the job seekers from south Punjab appeared in evaluation tests and interviews on the basis of open merit – despite the fact that the opportunities provided to them were not at par with west or central Punjab.

After the quota injunction disbanded in 1993, Pakistan People’s Party government restored it for another 20 years till 2013, but it was suspended just after four years- in 1997 by then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Besides restoring the quota, the chief minister informed the cabinet ministers that for the development of South Punjab, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz government had taken initiatives.

Read more: South Punjab lawmakers play gimmicks, refuse to verify resignations

The president of PML-N also revealed that 36 percent resources were allocated for 31 percent population which was part of the commitment. However, statistically, south Punjab is not 31 percent of the total population of the country according to the defectors, which recently parted ways with PML-N.

The members, who have formed a new alliance by the name Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM) claim that south Punjab is 50 percent of the total population of Punjab. In a bid to cajole the voters based in south Punjab, Awais Leghari, Minister for Power Division, had expressed in April that PML-N will include a plan of Bahawalpur and South Punjab province in its manifesto for elections.

After the quota injunction disbanded in 1993, Pakistan People’s Party government restored it for another 20 years till 2013, but it was suspended just after four years- in 1997 by then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Moreover, Nawaz Sharif, the former premier of the country, had also expressed concerns after a few of the lawmakers resigned to demand south Punjab province. He also cited the victory bagged by PML-N in Lodhran bye-polls, asserting that the residents of the south were as satisfied with the government as the people of other regions.

Read more: Will Bilawal’s rhetoric on farmers’ plight in South Punjab give political…

What is the Opposition Doing?

The government is not alone in trying to bag support of south Punjab as the parties in opposition have also sprung into action to get their piece of cake from the region. The most important move came on Tuesday when the leaders of JPSM announced their merger with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The JPSM group, which includes over 15 former elected representatives of the PML-N, will officially announce the engagement with PTI after meeting the chairman, Imran Khan. However, according to the reports, the lawmakers will contest elections on the symbol of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – bat.

In a bid to cajole the voters based in south Punjab, Awais Leghari, Minister for Power Division, had expressed in April that PML-N will include a plan of Bahawalpur and South Punjab province in its manifesto for elections.

Adoption of the electoral symbol of PTI is of importance as previously, the lawmakers from the south, contest elections as independents and then join the ruling party. Before the merger, PTI had announced to support the cause of South Punjab and an official merger will bolster its position in the region.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan People’s Party Chairman, had also expressed that the party will form the south Punjab province after assuming power. Moreover, former president and PPP’s co-Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, had also echoed the same remarks, decrying the treatment meted out to the province.

Read more: 8 legislators demand new province in Punjab

Why is South Important?

To bag electoral victory, the province of Punjab becomes the main battlefield; however, its southern part becomes more important as it represents 46 lawmakers.  Before the recent defections – led by Khusru Bakhtiar – PML-N enjoyed the support of 35 legislators from the region; however, it is losing ground in the current circumstances.

Any political force which manages to attract the electable from south, can secure the victory in the upcoming elections and with the merger of JPSM, PTI seems to be enjoying the upper hand.


  • 34
    Shares

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.