Newer provinces

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Collect them all!

The PML(N)’s position on new province vacillates between stony intransigence to going ballistic. From not being pleasantly disposed to talk of new provinces to going one up on the South Punjab bill of the PPP by asking for five new provinces as well.

All this is rather troubling. This is in no way a comment on the issue of new provinces. This paper, like most patriotic Pakistanis, has come to conclude that newer and more federating units are perhaps the only way forward. Anything else will be a flawed retardation. But, far from a reasoned debate on what is, and will continue to be, an extremely divisive issue, not only have are the political parties basing their stances on petty politics, but there are making no attempts to even hide this fact.

The PPP seeks, based on whatever math it has done on the issue, to eke out a new haven for itself in the form of southern Punjab. Whether the region actually is to prove to be the Sindh 2.0 the party’s members from the area are purporting it to be is another matter entirely.

The MQM, not particularly known for its largesse towards the Hindko and Seraiki speaking residents of Karachi, seeks newer provinces, one because of encroachment on its turf by the ANP, and opposition to the League. Plus, for a media-obsessed party equally obsessed with its image as a “national” entity, it thinks it might hold some sway in the future along those lines.

The PML(N), not to be outdone by the resolution of the other day, decided to play on this pitch itself. To counter the PPP, a demand for the Bahawalpur province, throwing a wedge in the Seraikistan situation. To counter the PML(Q), the demand for the Hazara province. To counter the ANP, the resolution for a “tribal” province.

Again, our lop-sided federation does need newer, smaller federating units. And let no one say something silly like now not being the right time (it never is the right time) but the whole exercise requires immense introspection, research, canvassing and consensus. The rather half-baked arguments on all sides of the various divides if the issue present a disaster in the making.