Bill on new province not a 'political stunt': Babar
07 March, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Defending the bill on the creation of new province in Punjab, Chairman of the commission on provinces Senator Farhatullah Babar Wednesday said it was not a 'political stunt' but a conscious and deliberate political initiative to address the genuine grievances and deprivations of the people of South Punjab.
The senator said the PPP had set up a separate chapter for South Punjab long ago and nominated Yousaf Raza Gilani, who hails from South |Punjab, as the prime minister. When Gilani was hounded out of his office for his advocacy for province of South Punjab, the party nominated another MNA from South Punjab Makhdoom Shahabuddin as the next prime minister but he too was hounded out by implicating him in false cases, he said. The ANP had also made a manifesto commitment to work for the creation of Seraiki province, he added.
About the proposed Bahawalpur province, the chairman of the commission said that during investigations by the commission no evidence came to surface that Bahawalpur ever had the status of a province. It transpired that it was a state like other princely states that was merged into West Pakistan. The legal challenge mounted to the merger of Bahawalpur in Punjab also failed. It was thus felt that making this former state a separate province would give rise to the demands of making former states of Khairpur, Swat and many others as provinces as well, he said.
About the constitutionality of creating a new province, Farhatullah Babar said a new province can be created under Article 239 (4) as the word 'alter' used in the said Article includes defining of new boundaries provided an amendment in Article 1-A was also made mentioning the name of the new province.
Taking up the objection that the present parliament was not competent to create the new province, Farhatullah Babar said that the present parliament gave identity to the Pakhtuns for the first time in 65 years of the country, and asked as to why it could not give identity to the people of South Punjab.
About the deprivations of the people of south Punjab he said that the number of senior officers in civil bureaucracy belonging to south and central Punjab demonstrated this huge disparity. He said that out of 46 grade-22 officers from Punjab, only four belonged to the three southern divisions of Multan, Bahawalpur and DG Khan. The proportion of grade-21 officers was 20 belonging to south Punjab and 107 from the rest of the province. Similarly only 48 grade-20 belonged from south Punjab against 389 from rest of the province. This deprivation was translated into deprivation in other fields, he said.
About the basis and legality of the commission, Farhatullah Babar said that it was based on the unanimous resolution of the National Assembly; the two unanimous resolutions of the Punjab Assembly; the message of the president to the NA speaker to form a commission; and the notification issued by the speaker setting up the commission.
He said that the commission invited written proposals from experts and general public and received over 2,300 communications, heard 15 experts and invited all the MNAs and the senators from southern Punjab to give their views.
About the distribution of resources, Farhatullah Babar said that constitutional and legal provisions existed to determine the distribution of resources among the provinces. Articles 153, 154 and 155 relates to the CCI, the Water Accord of 1991 and Article 155 (1) of the constitution addresses water disputes, Article 156 relates to the National Economic Council and Article 160 relates to NFC.