Senate panel to develop consensus on creation of new provinces

PPP opposes idea | Says move aimed at rolling back 18th Amendment, introduce a presidential form of govt in the country

ISLAMABAD  -  The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice Tuesday de­cided to develop a consensus on creation of more provinces in the country despite the ruling Paki­stan Peoples Party’s (PPP) reser­vations over the issue.

The committee that met under the chair of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Syed Ali Zafar extensively debated the matter of creation of new provinces. The meeting came to the conclusion that the new provinces needed to be created not just in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) but in other provinces as well. It was decided that the committee will hear all stakeholders, including the leadership of all political par­ties, and develop some consen­sus. Earlier this month, former chairman Senate and PPP stal­wart Raza Rabbani had opposed the idea of creation of nine new provinces in the country, saying such talk is being floated only to roll back the 18th Amendment and introduce a Presidential form of government in the country. He had made these remarks a day af­ter Deputy Chairman Senate Mir­za Muhammad Afridi suggested formation of nine new provinces, including Karachi, in the country.

The committee was of the view that with two of the assemblies in Punjab and KP having been dissolved, and the National As­sembly going to be dissolved in August, this would not be the appropriate time when all stake­holders can be brought on board. Nonetheless, it was felt that the committee must begin its work on the matter by calling the party heads or representatives and all stakeholders for their viewpoint.

The lawmakers expressed their displeasure with the Law Ministry for “failing to provide the reports” from the various ministries concerned regarding creation of new provinces. The chair directed the ministry to file a report within two weeks failing which action will be tak­en against the concerned. The committee had met to discuss the matter of creation of two provinces of south Punjab and Hazara in Punjab and KP respec­tively. The chairman committee viewed that there was sufficient justification for creation of these provinces. “There is poor gov­ernance and lack of economic development in areas that were far from Lahore and Peshawar respectively and this distance is also creating daily communica­tion problems for the people.” Senator Zafar added that the creation of new provinces would also address the economic and political marginalization of poor minorities. “At the same time as the number of smaller prov­inces increases, the federation would become stronger.” Chair­man Zafar underlined that the creation of new provinces must not be based on ethnic and lin­guistic grounds only but should be on administrative lines and population related. He said that the committee must also keep in mind whether Pakistan was able to carve out new provinces with current resources and whether provinces being proposed would be economically viable units.

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