New province draws new divisions, alignments in NA

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The treasury benches had to face hullabaloo and chaos from its own ranks on Friday as a report by the parliamentary commission on the creation of new provinces drew new divisions and alignments in the National Assembly.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) MNA from Mianwali, Humair Hayat Rokari, came down hard on what he called the “partisan report” by the commission. He tore its copies, threw the torn pages towards the chairman of the proceedings, Nadeem Afzal Gondal, and staged a walkout from the House. The act angered Gondal, who called it a violation of the rules of the House as well as parliamentary traditions.
Rokari, who had been a mere silent spectator in the assembly during the past five years, protested against the commission’s recommendation to include Mianwali into the proposed Bahawalpur-South Punjab (BJP) province. The commission’s report also triggered a walkout by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) members in protest. Earlier, PPP MNA Arif Aziz Sheikh presented the controversial report in the National Assembly.
Speaking on a point of order, Rokari said Mianwali was never a part of South Punjab on any administrative or ethnic basis, rather he said it was located in the northwest of the province.
He said there was no representation of the opposition in the commission, adding that the report was also a violation of the unanimous resolution of the Punjab Assembly. Sardar Shahjehan Yousaf also protested and staged a walkout from the session accusing the government of ignoring the demand for Hazara province. The JUI-F’s Laeeq Mohammad Khan from Hazara followed suit along with other members of the party. Munir Khan Orakzai, a member from FATA, also refused to extend any support to the controversial report, the reason being that FATA was absent from the contents of the report. He said all FATA members would oppose it.
The report contained the draft 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2013.
It suggested that there will be only one new province that should be named Bahawalpur South Punjab of which Bahawalpur would be the capital.
Per the recommendations, the new province will consist of three divisions of Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan and two districts of Mianwali and Bhakkar.
The proposed bill is now subject to its passage by the National Assembly, the Senate and the Punjab Assembly with two-thirds majority before being sent for presidential assent. The bill proposes nine amendments in the constitution.
Recounting the deprivations of South Punjab, the commission observed that South Punjab seemed to be sliding downwards in the NFC from 1970 with Multan and Rahim Yar Khan being brought down in the development index from serial number 4 and 6 in 1970, respectively, to serial 13 and 16 in 2011. According to the report, Punjab had 50 percent of the share in the federal civil bureaucracy whereas South Punjab had been getting 12 to 15 percent that was contrary to its rightful 30 percent.
According to the commission, the new province would be highly sustainable economically as it would produce 84 percent of Punjab’s cotton crop, 41 percent of wheat, 36 percent sugar, 85 percent of ginning cotton factories, 40 percent of flour mills, 30 percent of sugar mills and 25 percent of fertilizer manufacturing units.
The commission, however, recognised that its mandate was limited only to the consideration of the creation of a new province in Punjab as expressed in the unanimous resolution of the provincial assembly. “It could not take up any other demand in this regard that might have been raised from any quarter,” the report pointed out. The commission identified a deep sense of deprivation in the southern part of Punjab because of economic disparity and unequal share in development projects and government jobs.
It suggested various measures for distribution of resources. It proposed that the Water Accord of 1991 between the federating units it might have to be revisited to provide for a share of water to the new province. The report pointed out that articles 1(2), 51(3), 59(1), 59(1) (f), 59(4), 106(1), 175A(6) and 218(2)(b) of the constitution would need amendments for the creation of a new federating unit in province.
While the report has been unanimously adopted by the commission, it was accompanied by notes and observations by Senators Haji Adeel, Kamil Ali Agha, Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, MNAs Arif Aziz Sheikh and Farooq Sattar.
KARACHI LAW & ORDER: The House also witnessed a walkout staged by the PML-N on the law and order in Karachi, and especially on the absence of Interior Minister Rehman Malik from the House. The members said Malik’s statement had created a very dangerous situation in the financial hub of the country.
Taking part in the debate, MQM’s Sajid Ahmed expressed concern over Malik’s statement that Karachi “will see a bloodbath in the month of February”.

1 COMMENT

  1. Stage is being set for division of Sind, by creating a precedent, where MNAs from a specific area, which wants to form a seperate province, can be on commission, excluding those from parts, which do not want to separate, and hence give some sort of legitimacy of numbers to justify their act.

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