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Senate panel approves new provinces' report, PML-N opposes

21 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Senate's Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday approved the parliamentary committee's report pertaining to the formation of new provinces with a majority.

However, the report was rejected by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Meeting of the standing committee was held under the chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Kazim Khan at the Parliament House. The chairman pointed out that the constitution provides for alteration in the limits of provinces, but there is no mention of creation of new provinces in it. Committee's Chairman Farhatullah Babar gave a briefing about the parliamentary commission's report.

He said that the Punjab Assembly in a resolution had recommended the creation of Bahawalpur province, but those demanding restoration of Bahawalpur province, including Muhammad Ali Durrani, could not provide any document to the commission. He said Bahawalpur had never enjoyed the status of a province in the federation of Pakistan. Babar said keeping this in view the commission unanimously recommended the creation of Bahawalpur-South Punjab Province comprising Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Bahawalpur divisions and two districts of Mianwali and Bhakkar.

The committee consists of Law Minister Farooq Naek, Aitzaz Ahsan, Jehangir Badar, Farhatullah Babar, Raja Zafarul Haq and Zafar Ali Shah. Rejecting the report, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq from the PML-N stated that it was incomplete as there was no mention of distribution of resources among provinces in it. Syed Zafar Ali Shah, meanwhile, said the establishment of a new province would affect the federation.

Law Minister Naek observed that new provinces would be created on administrative basis, not ethnic, adding that the constitution did not prohibit the formation of new provinces, but an amendment would be needed in it. The law minister said the bill for the creation of new provinces will be presented in the Senate next week. Expressing his views on the issue Aitzaz Ahsan said new provinces could not be formed under the constitution, and Article 239 needed to be amended first. He added that if a bill for the formation of new provinces was presented under the present scenario it would be challenged in court.

End.

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