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PM Gilani reiterates support for new provinces

04 January, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Tuesday reiterated that the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government would support any resolution regarding the creation of new provinces in the country, particularly the Saraiki province.

Addressing the National Assembly session, the prime minister termed that creation of new provinces a need of the hour, assuring that his government would support the creation of new provinces if a resolution were presented in the House through a proper channel.

"It is the right of every party either to support or oppose such a resolution," he said, adding that if new provinces, including a Saraiki one, is not created during his tenure then it will never happen. Responding on a point of order, he said the demand for the Saraiki province is genuine and old.

Gilani also directed the chief whip in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, to discuss the new provinces issue with coalition parties and move a resolution in the House. Removing the sense of deprivation of the people of backward areas was the PPP's slogan, he said, holding the sense of deprivation responsible for the separation of East Pakistan. He claimed that the PPP was the national party and would support the resolution for new provinces if presented in the House through proper mechanism.

The prime minister said that demand of Saraiki province was not new and added that Multan was the capital of Sindh province thousands of years ago, hence, it was the legitimate demand of the people to establish a separate province. If parliament ensured the rights of Pashtuns and the people of Gilgit and Baltistan and FATA, "then how is it possible that it will not give us our identity," he said. If anybody opposes the creation of Saraiki province, the people of the area will not accept them, Gilani said, adding that creation of new provinces will strengthen the country and not weaken it.

Regarding Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif's statement for setting up military courts in Karachi, the prime minister asked how was it possible in a democratic setup, and termed it double standard of the PML-N. "In democracy, there is no room for such courts. Military should always be kept in the background," the prime minister said, adding that the Rangers were deployed in Karachi on the request of the provincial government to improve law and order.

The prime minister rejected the remarks of Mehtab Abbasi that he (PM) was struggling for the Saraiki province to pave the way for his son as the chief minister of that province.

Gilani said, "We are among the creators of this country. Our forefathers contributed in its creation and this is a historical fact."

"We have implemented all the resolutions regarding Balochistan except that on the law and order situation which is a provincial subject," he added.

Gilani said a delegation from Hazara met him and discussed the issue of new province and he talked to ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and asked him how the issue could be resolved. In response, he (Asfandyar) said if the PPP has consensus on the issue then it could be discussed in the House.

The prime minister said then he referred the matter to PPP's Parliamentary Party and PPP fully advocated the federalism.

He dismissed the allegation that the PPP was weakening Pakistan, adding, that the country is guarded by the constitution, which was given to the country by the PPP and provided a guarantee for the security of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) exchanged heated debate over the proposal of Saraiki and Hazara provinces in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday.

The MQM legislators sought permission from the chair to suspend the rules and take up the issue of new provinces due to its national importance, while the ANP termed the demand for a new province in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a conspiracy against the provincial autonomy ensured in the 18th Amendment of the constitution.

MQM legislator Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi told the House that the MQM had submitted a resolution regarding the creation of new provinces and the House should discuss the issue without any approval. But PML-N's Aftab Sheikh was of the view that it was a national issue and should be discussed in the advisory committee of the National Assembly before being debated in the House.

Opposing the debate over the creation new provinces, ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said that it was a provincial matter and should not be allowed to be discussed at the national level. "My party never asked for division of Punjab or Sindh then why the people of other provinces asked for distribution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," he asked. PML-Q leader Waqas Ahmad Sheikh said his party fully supported the creation of new provinces. The hegemony in Lahore, Peshawar and other areas of different parties should be removed and neglected areas should be given a chance to develop their respective areas.

The heated debate over granting permission to discuss the new provinces compelled acting NA Chairman Nawab Yousuf Talpur to suspend the proceeding for 20 minutes. The House resumed after 40 minutes with hue and cry from the MQM legislators.

Later, addressing the House, Law Minister Maula Bakhsh Chandio said the House could discuss the issue after meeting some of its legal requirements. The issue should be discussed in the advisory committee, but the MQM members repeatedly sought suspension of rules from the chair and to debate over it.

Sheikh Aftab said that there were other important issues, like shortage of electricity, gas, people's protest, but the MQM members insisted over discussion on a less important issue. He said both the MQM and the ANP were allied parties of the government, and they should sit together and decided what to discuss in the House.

ANP member Advocate Pervaiz Khan informed the House that his party fully supported the creation of Saraiki province. He claimed that injustices were carried out in Pashtun belt for the last 60 years and termed the creation of Hazara province another conspiracy against them. But the JUI-F's MNA Laiq Khan said that Hazara had a number of resources and reiterated to create the new province at any cost. PML-Q MNA Bahadir Khan Sehre said ANP founder, Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan, always supported the oppressed people, then why was the current leadership of ANP opposing it.

End.

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