Punjab PA okays Bahawalpur: South Punjab Provinces
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed separate resolutions pertaining to restoration of provincial status of Bahawalpur and creation of a new province of Southern Punjab, besides demanding the federal government immediately constitute an independent national commission for establishing new provinces.
The resolutions were passed in a special session amidst thumping of desks and sloganeering by members from both sides of the divide. Quite surprisingly, the PPP members also acceded to the demand of the PML-N for constituting a national commission which will decide the creation of new provinces on the basis of just distribution of water and other resources, geographical demarcation, legal, constitutional and administrative affairs. It will also expedite the process of creating new provinces.
Speaking to The News after the passage of resolutions, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed that the PPP and PML-Q members, besides acceding to their request of approving the restoration of Bahawalpur province, had also endorsed a long-standing PML-N demand for the commission. He stated the PPP leadership had been opposing their demand but now Raja Riaz, knowingly or mistakenly, had recognised it by passing these resolutions with consensus.
The minister moved the first resolution pertaining to restoration of the status of Bahawalpur province. While he was about to read the resolution, opposition leader Raja Riaz lodged protest saying that it was decided during the parliamentary advisory committee meeting that the resolutions would be presented from all the parliamentary leaders who would also read its text. He claimed that Rana Sanaullah had tried to take the entire credit by deleting their names from the list. Nevertheless, after the intervention of members, the speaker allowed the other parliamentary heads to read the text of resolutions.
According to the resolution, “This session of the provincial assembly is of the opinion that the people of Bahawalpur, who are struggling for restoring the status of Bahawalpur province since long are not demanding for creating any new province but restoring its previous status on the basis of administrative, geographical, historical, constitutional and political grounds. This session is of the opinion that following these realities, the previous status of Bahawalpur province be restored without any delay. This session besides demanding from the federal government for restoring the previous status of Bahawalpur province should immediately constitute a national commission, which will look into all the key affairs pertaining to creating new provinces in accordance with fair distribution of water and allied resources, geographical demarcation and legal, constitutional and administrative grounds and expedite the process of establishing new provinces.”
The resolution on creating the province of South Punjab was also identical except replacing the name of Bahawalpur province with South Punjab. Immediately after the passage of resolutions, the PPP members started raising slogans in support of President Asif Zardari and PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and ‘Takhat-e-Lahore Tha’ while the PML-N members shouted slogans in support of the Sharif brothers.
Meanwhile, PML-N’s Shumaila Rana and PPP’s Usman Bhatti took oath of their membership of the provincial assembly amidst strong sloganeering. When Shumaila Rana was taking oath, the PPP members started shouting “credit card thief” and in support of President Asif Zardari. The PML-N benches, led by Syed Zaeem Qadri, were shouting ‘Go Zardari Go’ and that they would again win the next term.