In a face-saving attempt, party decides to endorse Punjab division on ‘administrative lines’
Reported by Aamer Waqs/ Edited by Mahmood SadiqLAHORE – The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided in principle to endorse the idea of carving new provinces out of Punjab on administrative grounds rather than on ethnic and linguistic basis, party sources confided with TheNation on Friday.
However, the final decision regarding the issue will be taken at the highest party meeting to be held next Monday in Islamabad, which will be chaired by PML-N President Nawaz Sharif. Prior to this, senior party leader Sartaj Aziz will chair another meeting on the subject. So far the party after its various meetings has finalised a package of recommendations, which would be further dilated upon in Monday’s moot.
A party source confided that the special committee met thrice during the last week to finalise the proposals. “The premise is that provinces should be created on administrative grounds, and a package should be announced for creating new provinces,” mentioned the source. Moreover, the party leadership also believe that more provinces should be created in the larger public interest and not for political point scoring.
The party sticks to its position that it is against creation of new provinces on ethnic and linguistic grounds, but concedes that it could be done on administrative grounds.
In a statement PML-N Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal asserted that these provinces should be created on the basis of ideology, though he did not elaborate what ideology he was talking about. Political analysts opined that Ahsan is probably unaware that there is only one ideology according to which Pakistan was created, and they were at their wits as to how multiple administrative divisions could be made on the basis of a single ideology. “How can there be many ideologies in one country?” remarked a party parliamentarian, while seeking anonymity.
On the other hand, political pundits believe that the PPP was not serious about creating new provinces, but was campaigning for it for multiple reasons. First, it is playing to the public gallery for gathering support of those who have been raising the issue since long. Secondly, it is making an effort to have a bigger following among the masses of those particular areas. Thirdly, it is a political game aimed at clipping PML-N wings and eroding its strength. This is more obvious since PML-N’s own leaders, like Senior Vice-President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, are vociferously advocating for the creation of more provinces, especially Saraiki, an area which falls within his proximity of influence.
Analysts assert that the PPP has gone ahead with the proposal of new provinces sans realising that it would lead to huge constitutional crisis and would make the economics of the country more vulnerable. “How would other provinces allow Punjab to have 40 seats in the Senate when the province is divided into two?” the party source questioned while mentioning that the other provinces had been alleging Punjab for dominating the upper legislative echelon.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has demanded formation of a commission, on the pattern of the one made for 18th amendment, to discuss the creation of new provinces.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif held a meeting with party representatives of Sindh. On the occasion, he bitterly criticised the PPP government and alleged it for bringing destruction to Karachi. “The federal and Sindh governments are responsible for the Karachi chaos, and do not seem to be sincere in clearing the mess,” he observed, while reiterating his stance for the implementation of court decisions at every cost.