PM suggests way-forward

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THE topic of creation of new provinces is once again in the limelight ahead of general election. This time the debate on the sensitive and important topic was triggered by half a dozen lawmakers from South Punjab who earlier this month quit the ruling party and announced to wage a struggle for the formation of a separate province in Punjab. They were rightly tagged as opportunists and the compulsive turncoats with the ruling party Quaid expressing his surprise over their new found love for South Punjab as actually these lawmakers never ever raised the issue at the floor of Parliament over the last five years – the platform which can only decide about the creation of any new province by a constitutional amendment. Anyway how do the South Punjab Province Front moves forward and to whom they align with is yet to be seen but it is certain that they cannot achieve their goal sans sitting and holding consultations with all the other mainstream political parties.
This actually was the message that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi conveyed to the defectors during his visit to Bahawalpur where he addressed a public gathering and also held a meeting with the notables. He reminded that the PML (N) is not against the formation of new provinces rather it is the party which get passed a resolution from Punjab Assembly in support of Bahawalpur and South Punjab. As the demand for new provinces is also being raised in other provinces and then a constitutional amendment is required for the purpose, the Prime Minister was very right in his assertion that no single party can call the shots on the matter rather all the political forces will have to sit together and reach such a consensus that reflects the aspirations of the people of all the federating units. Given the sensitivities and sentiments involved, a grand dialogue on this matter is the only way forward in order to avoid any controversies and disputes amongst the provinces which otherwise prove to be detrimental for the Federation. Certainly the incumbent is not left with much time but this matter needs to be taken up on priority after the polls. It will also be unfair to blame the present government for not doing enough towards this end as when it came into power it was faced with other serious challenges such as power outages, security and economic problems that it could not deliver on its promise of new provinces. As the situation stands much improved now, we expect the next government at the Centre will lead from the front and take on board all the provinces and the political parties to carve out new federating units with the sole objective of ensuring good governance so that the problems of the people could be addressed at the grass roots level. Simultaneously, they will also have to finalize the new NFC so that the new provinces could get their due pie from the national kitty. The political parties will have to demonstrate the spirit shown in the passage of 18th amendment and the National Action Plan in order to take the matter of new provinces to a logical conclusion.