Zardari orders commission on creation of Multan, Bahawalpur provinces
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari sent a reference to the National Assembly speaker late Thursday night, calling for the constitution of a commission comprising six senators, six MNAs and two members from the Provincial Assembly of Punjab to look into issues relating to the creation of two new provinces, namely Multan and Bahawalpur in the Punjab and to initiate the process of amendments in the Constitution for this purpose, says a press release.
Spokesperson to President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the commission will submit its report within one month, to be followed by the process of constitutional amendments to make the two new provinces. He said that the reference draws the attention of the speaker to the resolutions passed by the National Assembly and Provincial Assembly of Punjab calling for the creation of the new provinces.
Following is the text of the reference sent to the speaker:
The National Assembly, in its 41st session in its meeting held on May 3, 2012, passed a resolution to the effect that in order to address the grievances and to secure the political, administrative and economic interests of the people of the Southern Region of the Province of the Punjab and to empower them in this regard, a new province to be known as Province of Janoobi Punjab be created from the present Province of the Punjab.
The Provincial Assembly of Punjab has also passed a similar resolution demanding parliament and the federal government to create a new province of Janoobi Punjab and also to revive the earlier status of Bahawalpur as a Province (copies of resolutions are annexed).
2. In order to implement the aforesaid resolutions and before a process is initiated to amend the Constitution in terms of Article 239 thereof, it is expedient that a commission may be constituted comprising six members from the Senate to be nominated by the chairman, six members from the National Assembly to be nominated by the speaker and two members from the Provincial Assembly of Punjab to be nominated by the speaker of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab.
The commission shall look into the issues relating to the fair distribution of economic and financial resources, demarcation, allocation/re-adjustment of seats in the National Assembly, Senate and the concerned provincial assembly and allocation of seats in the new province on the basis of population, including seats of minorities and women and other constitutional, legal and administrative matters. The provisions of the Constitution which would require amendment inter alia include Articles 1(2), 51, 59 and 106 of the Constitution.
3. The Commission shall submit its report to the speaker as well as to the prime minister within 30 days of its notification in the official gazette, which will be followed by initiation of the process of amendment of the Constitution.
Asif Ali Zardari, President”
Tahir Hasan Khan adds from Karachi: President Zardari on Thursday said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was behind the conspiracy to create an ethnic crisis in Sindh by raising the slogan of a Mohajir province.
Addressing PPP MPAs of Sindh at the Bilawal House, Karachi, the president said the PML-N conspiracy had failed with the support of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which had proved that it did not want a division of Sindh. He advised parliamentarians of coalition partners and his party not to worry and panic but to face this difficult and complex situation boldly. He said nationalist forces, which were raising the slogan of confederation and Sindhi nationalism, had been funded to create an ethnic crisis in Sindh to counter the creation of a Southern Punjab province.
President Zardari cautioned that the PML-N might create another conspiracy and hence the party leaders should remain in contact with the masses to inform them about the past politics of nationalist forces that had now joined hands with the PML-N. He said the government was carefully monitoring the activities of rivals, especially those who had started activities in Sindh and were gathering nationalist forces to use them in conspiracies hatched to destabilise the province.
The president said the government realised the enormity of the challenge of energy shortage and was determined to overcome it in the shortest-possible time. “No matter what successes we may achieve in the political field, in empowering provinces, in constitutional reforms and fighting the militants, the people will judge us by the measure of success in overcoming the power shortages and the government is deeply aware of it,” he added.
Presidential Spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said the issues that the president touched upon included the current political situation, party policy on various issues, the fight against militancy, election reforms, a neutral caretaker set-up, new province in South Punjab, poverty alleviation, the economic situation and Nato summit in Chicago.
“Disengagement is not a democratic option,” President Zardari said with reference to his participation in the Chicago summit.
President Zardari said the policy of reconciliation would continue and an effort was being made to take all political parties on board on important issues. He said although presenting the fifth budget was in itself an achievement for any democratic government, it was also an important indicator that democracy and democratic institutions were taking root in the country and the policy of reconciliation was paying off.
Zardari said the PPP, being the party of the masses, was aware of the real issues of the people and focusing on their early redress. He said with over four years in government, the PPP had many achievements to its credit and was in a position to confidently go to the people in the next general elections. He said despite continued propaganda from the party’s detractors and unprecedented challenges from various quarters since assuming office, the party had successfully navigated the course.
“The sky was overcast, the sea was rough and pirates were sitting on the fence, but the government has successfully navigated the ship to the shores,” Zardari said, adding: “Restoration of 1973 Constitution, the passage of 18th, 19th and 20th amendments, addressing poverty alleviation through the Benazir Income Support program, NFC Award, Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, Gilgit-Balitstan reforms, Fata reforms and election related reforms were no small achievements of the party which also had to fight the militants on the one hand and unprecedented natural disasters on the other.”
Farhatullah Babar quoted the president as saying: “Militants often camouflage their real agenda behind the facade of religion or some political issue and that wisdom demanded that they are not allowed to hijack a genuine political issue and gain sympathies of the people. This is partly the rationale behind the decision to give the Pakhtoons their identity by renaming their province as Pukhtunkhwa and for a new province in South Punjab”.
President Zardari directed setting up a four-member committee of PPP MPAs to prepare periodic reports on the performance of various ministries and bring it to the attention of the party.