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New province report triggers storm of protests in assembly
 
 
 

ISLAMABAD - National Assembly proceedings were marred by the uproar and walkouts over the tabling of recommendations of parliamentary commission on new provinces in Punjab and the ongoing wave of violence in Karachi.As the ruling PPP MNA Arif Aziz Sheikh tabled the commission report before the house, PML-N new entrant from Sindh Syed Zafar Ali Shah chanted 'No, No' and said that the report was unacceptable to them. A number of PML-N MPs, including Umair Hayat Rokri, Zahid Hamid and Ayaz Sadiq, wanted to speak on point of order to record their protest over commission's report but were not allowed.The chair then rushed to resume debate on law and order situation with special reference to the fresh spate of violence in port city of Karachi. Defying chair’s direction Rokri tore apart the copy of the report to protest the proposal to include Mianwali in the new province and staged a walkout.Fata Parliamentary Leader Munir Orakzai and JUI-F leader Laiq Muhammad Khan rejected the report and lodged strong protest over not including recommendations for granting the status of province to Hazara and Fata. On the other hand, the JUI-F members also continued their protest over imposition of Governor’s Rule in Balochistan and staged walkout.Later the house resumed debate on law and order situation but as Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik was not present, the main opposition PML-N staged walkout deploring the treasury’s indifference to the issue. Minister of State for Interior Imtiaz Safdar Warriach informed the house that Malik was abroad and there was no justification in staging a walkout.Resuming debate on the prevailing law and order situation in the country on the motion moved by the interior minister, MQM’s Sajid Ahmed Khan said the people were being killed in Karachi regardless of their religious and ethnic associations. He stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy to end killings in Karachi and Quetta and counter the designs of the ‘foreign forces’ to create unrest in the country.Sajid said prediction of bloodshed in Karachi in February had worried the people including the business community, which ultimately affects the national economy. He said the government should not rule out the possibility of a conspiracy to get the elections delayed by causing unrest in the country. He urged all political parties to get united against the conspirators to expose them by setting aside their political differences.Speaking on a point of order, Sardar Shahjahan Yousuf said the new provinces commission had been asked to evolve consensus for creation of Hazara province as had been demanded by Kamil Ali Agha, the PML-Q's representative in the commission. He also walked out of the house, saying that the bill should not be taken up for voting till a consensus on Hazara province.Umair Hayat Rokhri said the commission's report on new provinces contained no input from the opposition members, adding that inclusion of Mianwali and Dera Ghazi Khan in Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab province was beyond any logic and reason. He termed the report incomplete, alleging that the move was aimed at gaining political advantage during the elections. Later, the house was adjourned to meet again on Monday at 1700 hours.The report tabled before the house recommended creation of a new province comprising Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions along with districts of Mianwali and Bakkar. The report also included the draft of 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2013. This bill proposes nine amendments in the constitution and is subject to the passage by the national assembly, senate and Punjab assembly with two-thirds majority before sending it for presidential assent.Recounting the deprivations of the southern Punjab, the commission observed that in NFC, that part of Punjab seemed to be sliding downward from 1970 with Multan and Rahim Yar Khan brought down in the development index from serial number 4 and 6 in 1970 to serial 13 and 16 respectively in 2011. According to the report, Punjab had 50 per cent share in federal civil bureaucracy but southern Punjab had been getting 12 to 15 per cent share contrary to its right of 30 per cent. For example, out of 1,086 Punjab officers in three important civil service group, Rawalpindi Division had 146, Gujranwala 149 and Lahore 338 but three divisions of southern Punjab jointly had 157 officers.The commission opposed the restoration of Bahawalpur State as it would give strength to the demand for restoration of Khairpur, Swat and many other previous states as provinces. The commission observed that the new province would be economically highly sustainable with producing 84 per cent of cotton crop, 41 per cent of wheat, 36 per cent sugar, 85 per cent of ginning cotton factories, 40 per cent of flour mills, 30 per cent of sugar mills and 25 per cent of fertilisers manufacturing units of Punjab. The report had been unanimously adopted by the commission with dissenting notes by senators Haji Adeel, Kamil Ali Agha, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, MNAs Arif Aziz Sheikh and Farooq Sattar.In another development PML-N MPs have moved a privilege motion in the national assembly against the Parliamentary Commission on new provinces in Punjab terming its working sans main opposition as unlawful. The very creation of the commission on a presidential reference has also been questioned.

 
 
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