Debate on new provinces dominates NA proceedings
24 January, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The debate on creation of new provinces in Punjab took a centre stage in the Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday by putting the ruling alliance and PML-N on both sides of fence on the critical issue.
Although PML-N lawmakers tried to negate the impression that their party is against new provinces in Punjab, the PPP and its coalition partner PML-Q forcefully advocated the cause for new federating units in the province by urging the opposition to come up clearly on this matter.
The PML-N also staged a walkout from the House over "non-serious" attitude of treasury benches on the issue. However, the party joined the proceedings upon insistence of treasury members.
The discussion on new federating units took the heat right from the beginning when even before the question hour, PPP lawmaker from Balochistan Changez Jamali lashed out at Punjab for benefiting from the resources of the country for the last 65 years.
"When all funds of Punjab are being spent on Lahore, then the voices would definitely raise from the southern part of the province for their rights", he pointed out.
A turncoat of PML-Q from Bahawalpur region who switched over to PML-N, Riaz Hussain Peerzada, opposed the new units and noted that if a single unit is carved out the country "will not survive". He even went on to declare that the constitution of the country did not allow any new federating unit in the country.
However, he was countered by his former party colleagues Sardar Bahadur Khan Sehar and Raza Hayat Hiraj and Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who stressed that the constitution allows for redrawing of federating units if a commission proposed to do so.
Sehar said that Pakistan is a multi-national state and Saraikis are a different ethnic group on the basis of their culture and civilisation.
"Our culture and civilisation should be respected like the others as we have a great regard for Punjab language and culture", he added.
Raza Hayat Hiraj in an emotional tone declared that "we will get our province come what may".
Kaira also pointed out that the constitution could be changed if a parliamentary commission proposes for redrawing of geographical boundaries of provinces under article 1 of the constitution.
The PML-N's Tehmeena Daultana termed the talks of new provinces in Punjab "a joke".
Daultana, however, said that an independent commission should be formed to carve out new provinces.
Rana Tanveer Husssain of the PML-N said that the government is simply cashing in on the issue", and said that this issue should be tackled as per the constitution.
Sheikh Rohail Asghar deplored that the House that should debate on issues concerning Pakistan is wasting time on creation of new provinces and called for saving the existing provinces first.
The JUI-F led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman again walked our from the session against Governor's Rule in Balochistan, which treasury defended in view of prevailing situation at that time in the province.
The JUI-F's Asia Nasir, on a point of order, said that the "present worst situation" in the province is result of undemocratic actions like Governor's Rule in the past.
Qamar Zaman Kaira said the Governor's Rule was imposed in Balochistan following in-depth consultation.
Later, the House passed 'The Islamabad Capital Territory Private Educational Institutions (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2012'.