New Province or a New Dispute In View of Humayun Akhtar Khan

Do you think now is the right time to start a debate on establishing a new province?

I believe it’s not the time to engage in this debate and the administration is not planning to establish one at the moment. Punjab assembly with the consent of PPP put forward a clear resolution suggesting to restore Bahawalpur as a province and discussed establishment of Saraiki province.

The commission that was structured for this purpose does not have the representation of Punjab government or even their alliance partners. There is talk of revising section 239 A so that the province broken apart has no capacity to intervene in the resolution and its proceedings. It appears that the government is disinclined for the establishment of a province. Our constitution gives freedom of choice to the people and permits them to demand a separate province if desired. It is the responsibility of the government to do the same, according to the constitution and to not disrupt the proper process.

PML N has been persistent in presenting the vision of two provinces Bahawalpur and South Punjab. Considering this, why do you think has PML failed to take up the issue?

PML’s stance on this issue has always been very clear. They have demanded restoration of Bahawalpur and recapitulation of South Punjab. This demand is according to the constitution. It does not suggest splitting of the country, instead reorganization of a region with consent of the people living there. The spirit of this idea has never been considered seriously. The time that the Government has opted for is inappropriate. It appears like this surge is being used as distraction only, with no sincere intent. This issue is not like any project that involves infrastructural changes. The sensitivity requires serious and sincere debate.

At the time when people are deprived, talk of a new province gives them hope. South of Punjab should have been focused, to deal with this deprivation. Do you agree?

I completely agree that people of Pakistan are completely suppressed. They have been dealing with deteriorating security and economic conditions but their patience is admirable. Even now they are patiently waiting for elections, discouraging all elements that suggest delay in the elections. Even with all the provocation towards change, there are no signs of an uprising. They are yearning a new chosen government that will bring relief. This new representation can take up the task of establishing a new province according to the desires of people and the constitution of Pakistan.

Source: Live with Talat – Express News – 28 January 2013″

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