On new provinces

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A new debate has taken hold of the country whether the number of existing provinces be maintained or new provinces should be carved out of the existing provinces. In this regard, demand for creation of three new provinces is getting momentum. The politicians and other segments of society have also held rallies in favour of their demands. The people of Abbotabad Division and other adjoining areas are demanding for a “Hazara province” and thus reducing the area of the existing province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Likewise, the creation of “Saraiki province” is also being demanded. This demand has also attained support of some important political parties of the country ie, Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League. Before partition of the sub-continent, Bahawalpur used to be a separate state which merged into Pakistan/Punjab after independence. Some national political parties are demanding that the original status of Bahawalpur state should be restored or a “Bahawalpur Province” be made.
In the above context, provisions of Article 239(4) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 are relevant to mention. In Articles 238 and 239, the Constitution empowers the Parliament to make any amendment in the Constitution by an act of Parliament. The procedure in detail, to affect an amendment is given in Article 239 of the Constitution. In view of this author, clause (4) of Article 239 needs to be read with Article 1 of the Constitution to achieve the purpose of creating new provinces out of the existing provinces. For convenience, I reproduce clause (4) of Article 239, which reads as under:
“A bill to amend the Constitution which would have the effect of altering the limits of a Province shall not be presented to the President for assent unless it has been passed by the Provincial Assembly of the Province by votes not less than two-thirds of its total membership.”
If the demand of taking out the Abbotabad Division etc is granted to carve out the province of Hazara from the present province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it would certainly alter the limits of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Thus clause (4) of Article 239 would be attracted. Likewise, Article 239, clause (4) would also be attracted in case Saraiki province is created or the state of Bahawalpur is restored/Bahawalpur is made a new province. Likewise, Article 1 of the Constitution would also be required to be amended in accordance with the provisions of Articles 238 and 239 of the Constitution.
In the Indian Constitution, in Article 1, clause (3)( c) word acquire has been used to meet the similar situation. The states (provinces) in India as they existed prior to their constitution had been formed largely as a result of historical accident and circumstances and there had, therefore, been a demand for the re-organisation of the component units of the Indian Union on a more fractional basis, after taking into account not only the growing importance of the regional languages, but also financial, economic and administrative considerations. Hence, to meet the above need, the State Re-organisation Commission was constituted in India in December 1953. The commission submitted its report on 30 September 1955. In light of the said report of the above commission, states (provinces) in India were re-organised.
Nowadays, as noted above, in Pakistan demand for new provinces is increasing almost in all existing provinces. Before the governments in Pakistan decide to concede to the demand of making new provinces, a commission consisting of experts in different areas may be constituted following the Indian experience. Any decision taken in rush or just for political consideration might prove counterproductive.
In 1996, the Indian Parliament passed the Punjab Re-organisation Act (XXXI of 1996) for the re-organisation of the state of Punjab with effect from 1 November 1996. A new state (province), to be known as the state of Haryana, comprising of certain territories of the existing state of Punjab, was established. Some areas were also transferred from Punjab to Himachal Pradesh.
Demands are being made in our Punjab also to carve out three new provinces ie, Pothohar, Saraikastan and Bahawalpur. This is a serious development and needs to be handled dispassionately, with all honesty and sincerity. In my view, new provinces may be made on the basis of regional languages, financial, economic and administrative considerations as happened in India, instead of accomplishment of political advantages and for immediate political dividends to certain political families in the existing or the proposed new provinces.

The writer is a former judge of the Lahore High Court and former Advocate General of Punjab.

5 COMMENTS

  1. why Pakistani ruling elite is interested in making new provinces? rizvi failed to answer it. what India gained by making new provinces? decentralization is the only way to involve people in decision making yet new provinces will produce new lucrative jobs for civil servants as well as new ministries for politicians. centralism is one of the pitfalls and if we allowed center to have power to divide provinces it will strengthen centralism. if we study case of India, below poverty line is still increasing , disadvantage classes fail to get anything after new provinces yet new delhi felt relieved after dividing India in so many provinces. after 18th amendment provinces have power, first time in Pakistan's history yet centralist forces have sever reservations regarding power of provinces so now they want to divide provinces. yet constitution is a hurdle as unlike India 1973 constitution is federal in nature.

  2. the Serieki province is being proposed by people who either have no or negligible representation in the area: MQM and ANP etc. May I put it as " hub e Ali ya Bughaz e maavia".
    I agree with Rizvi to first make a formula for making new provinces and later apply it universally in all the provinces and make new provinces if required. The argument on liguistic grounds for serieki province does not appear logical as serikies may find themselves a minority even in District Multan. Similarly pleading on more population or distant from provincial capital can be applied mutitis mutindi on Sindh Province but initiater of Serieki and Hazara province claims to resist it even at cost of their lives.
    I still support making of enough small provinces which averts independance movements as exist in balochistan and Sindh Provinces.
    We really need to deliberate more on this issue instead of gaining political mileage which later lesd us to times of one unit and like consequences.
    Thanks and regards.

  3. India by creating new provinces has obviously been able to minimize the separatist movements which was a great step taken to keep the India United as a Federal state.Likewise Pakistan can minimize the separatist movement in Balochistan , BY DIVIDING IT INTO THree provinces or atleast two.By creating Hazara province and Saraiki province.so restructuring of federation is neccessary in Pakistan.WE HAVE ALREDY LOST ONE WING just by denying political autonomy and rights .we dont want to lose anymore.

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