New-provinces bill to test commitment of political elite | Pakistan Today

New-provinces bill to test commitment of political elite

With the new provinces controversy finally entering parliament, the commitment of political elites is all set to face a tough test as most of the mainstream political parties have been claiming support to the popular demand made by people from across the country to create new provinces on administrative or lingual basis.
The question of creating new provinces has hit parliament, as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) after submitting two separate resolutions in both Houses of parliament for the creation of new provinces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab has also submitted the “20th Constitution Amendment Bill’ in parliament for the same purpose.
A resolution has also been submitted in the National Assembly by FATA parliamentarians for declaring Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) a province. The MQM on Thursday submitted two separate resolutions in the National Assembly’s Secretariat for the creation of two new provinces — Hazara province consisting of six districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and South Punjab.
On January 2 (Monday), the MQM submitted the same resolutions in the Senate.
Haider Abbas Rizvi said the issue of creation of Hazara province was quite clear, pointing out that it was time to make six districts, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Kohistan, Haripur, Battagram and Torgor a separate province. About his party’s resolution on southern Punjab, he said the MQM would push for conducting a referendum to ascertain whether the local people wanted southern Punjab as a province or two provinces, the other being Bahawalpur.
The MQM also submitted the “20th Constitution Amendment Bill” in parliament on Monday for the creation of Hazara and South Punjab provinces. The draft bill seeks amendments in Article 1, 101 and 151 of the constitution.
The MQM’s move may land the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in trouble as the latter can neither oppose nor support the bill. “If we oppose Seriaki province, we will loose vote bank in southern Punjab … and if we support it, it would divide our party’s stronghold (Punjab), which is against our political interests,” a PML-N leader wishing not to be attributed said.
Rasool Bukhsh Rais, a well-known political analyst, said the MQM was not interested in creating Hazara, Seraiki or other provinces and the primary motive of its submitting resolutions and bill in the National Assembly was that ultimate debate on the issue of provinces would gradually be reduced to a package deal in which Sindh would not remain immune to further division.
He said the MQM could not directly propose division of Sindh, as it would result into violent ethnic clashes, therefore, the MQM wanted to create hype about creating new provinces, including Sindh, and avoid clashes simultaneously.
Separately, while submitting resolution for declaring FATA a province, Hameedullah Jan Afridi said last Friday that “we have submitted the resolution on behalf of the FATA Parliamentary Group that FATA should be given the status of a province”.
Talking to Pakistan Today Munir Orakzai said, “FATA has suffered a lot and in the prevalent situation, FATA deserves to be declared a separate province.” On the other hand, PPP’s trusted ally – the Awami National Party (ANP) – is vehemently opposing FATA creation as a separate province unless political activity is generated to influence the opinion in favour or against the issue by political parties.
The demands of people and their representatives for the creation of new provinces in various parts of the country get justification due to the failure of successive governments in giving equal rights and opportunities to all citizens of the country.
This disparity can be gauged from the fact that despite the passage of around four months since President Asif Ali Zardari approved amendments to the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), the government has failed to establish institutional mechanism for implementing the amended FCR in FATA and the delay has become a source of anguish for people of FATA and parliamentarians.
Zafar Beg Bhittani, MNA from FATA, said the courts (Appellate Authority & FATA Tribunal) had not been established yet. “The delay in implementation of everything has become a hallmark of the government … even powers have not been devolved to the provinces as passed under 18th Amendment,” he said.
The government’s sincerity in bringing peace and development to the restive areas of FATA could also be gauged from the fact that during the fist two quarters of the current fiscal year (2011-12), only Rs 1 billion were released of the Rs 15 billion allocation.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Akhunzada Chattan, MNA from FATA, said in the last financial year (2010-11), only 30 percent of total allocated funds were released.
“The delay in release of funds badly hampers development in the region which is already lagging behind other parts of the country … from December to March, you cannot execute development works in FATA due to harsh weather conditions,” he said.

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One Comment;

  1. abid said:

    Fata Must become a province

    This will help in fighting against terror.

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