Report on new provinces raises tempers in NA
02 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday presented in the National Assembly the much-awaited report of the Parliamentary Commission on Creation of New Provinces in Punjab, triggering an exchange of brickbats between the lawmakers over its findings, which they considered erroneous.
The report of the controversial commission also prompted walkouts from the JUI-F, a member of the cabinet from PML-Q hailing from Hazara Division, and PML-N's Humair Hayat Khan Rokhari from Mianwali on their reservations over the contents of the report. Rokhari tore up a copy of the report, an action termed contrary to the rules of the House by chairman of the proceedings, Nadeem Afzal Gondal.
Expressing reservations over the inclusion of Mianwali District in the new province, Rokhari said that his area was never a part of south Punjab on administrative and ethnic basis and is located in the north-west of the province. Terming the report a mere bundle of papers, the legislator said that the input from the opposition was not added in it and called the findings against the unanimous resolution of the Punjab Assembly. "The Punjab Assembly will reject this report, as it is not complete", he added.
PML-Q's Sardar Shahjahan Yousaf, who hails from the Hazara Division, protested against no mention of Hazara province in the report and walked out of the House. Laiq Mohammad Khan, a JUI-F lawmaker from Hazara, also lodged a strong protest against non-inclusion of Hazara province in the report and staged a walkout along with other members of the party.
Munir Khan Orakzai, a member from FATA, refused to extend any support to the commission's report because of absence of FATA province mention in it, and said that all FATA members would oppose it. Earlier, PPP's Arif Aziz Sheikh and a member of the parliamentary commission on new provinces presented the report of the commission, which gave broader outlines of the new province in the name of Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab (BJP).
The commission admitted that its mandate was limited only to the consideration of creation of a new province in Punjab as expressed in the unanimous resolution of the Punjab Assembly. "It could not take up any other demand in this regard that may have been raised from any quarter," it pointed out. The commission identified deep sense of deprivation in the southern parts of Punjab because of economic disparity and unequal share in development projects and government jobs.
It suggested various measures for distribution of resources and on Water Accord of 1991 between the federating units, and proposed that it may have to be revisited to provide for the share of water to new provinces. It pointed out that various articles of constitution 1 (2), 51 (3), 59 (1), 59 (1) (f), 59 (4), 106 (1), 175A (6) and 218 (2) (b) would need amendments for the creation of a new federating unit in province.
The Lower House of parliament also witnessed a walkout from the PML-N on law and order situation in Karachi, and especially absence of Interior Minister Rehman Malik from the House, whose statement, members said, had created a very dangerous situation in Karachi. The PML-N members, however, returned when lawmakers from the treasury succeeded in pacifying them. MQM's Sajid Ahmed, during a debate on law and order situation, showed concern over Rahman Malik's statement that Karachi would be bathed in blood in February.
Meanwhile, in its report the commission opined that the proposed province comprising three divisions of Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Bahawalpur, and the districts of Mianwali and Bhakkar was highly sustainable from economic point of view. According the report, 84 percent of the cotton crop of Punjab is produced in the Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions.
As Punjab itself accounts for 70 percent of the country's cotton, it means that the three southern divisions alone account for nearly 59 percent of the national production of cotton. These three divisions alone also account for 41 percent of wheat production and 36 percent sugar production of Punjab. Over 80 percent the cotton ginning factories, nearly 40 percent of the flourmills, 30 percent of sugar mills and 25 percent of fertiliser manufacturing units of Punjab are located in the proposed new province.
PML-N moves NA against commission on provinces
Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Friday submitted a privilege motion in the National Assembly against the Parliamentary Commission on Creation of New Provinces in Punjab by terming it controversial.
"This commission is controversial because it was not formed with the consultation of opposition leaders in both houses of parliament," stated the privilege motion, which was signed by the PML-N members of the Lower House of parliament. It said that the number of PML-N members in the commission was low, and no consultations were held with the opposition leader over those who were made part of the commission.
The PML-N members pointed out that the members of commission from Punjab were only taken from its southern part and not a single member was taken from other parts of the province. The PML-N also criticised the appointment of chairman of the commission who, it said, is a person holding a government position in the Presidency. It noted that it reflects the lack of seriousness on the part of the government to carve out new provinces in Punjab.
The PML-N lawmakers opined that report of the parliamentary commission was not only against the presidential order but in violation of a resolution of the Punjab Assembly that suggested creation of two new provinces in Punjab. They demanded prompt action against all those who breached the privilege of the House. The commission's report was presented in the National Assembly on Friday, which was followed by walkouts from the House.