Dividing Punjab? – by Rauf Klasra

Sunday, June 28, 2009
By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: Sharp differences within the ranks of the PML-N surfaced in the National Assembly on Friday over the issue of a Seraiki province when its MNA Hanif Abbasi, without naming anyone, snubbed the likes of Javed Hashmi, who had joined the voices backing this move.

The top PML-N leadership reportedly fears that such a move, which is said to have strong backing of the top PPP leadership, would lead to erosion of its political authority in case a new province was created in the Punjab. The loud voice of Javed Hashmi in this regard reportedly rang alarm bells in the party ranks and Hanif Abbasi was tasked to give a shut-up call to those who were favouring this demand.

Meanwhile, the supporters of this move may get more reasons to demand their own province when the National Assembly was informed during the question hour that out of the Rs 20 billion loan obtained from the World Bank by the Ministry of Communication to construct mega roads in the country, not a single project was launched in the southern Punjab. Out of 18 projects, eight were started in the central and northern Punjab. Likewise, out of the Rs 20 billion taken as loan from the Asian Development Bank, only one 37-km road project was started on the Multan-Muzaffargarh road.

One official said this kind of discrimination in the allocation of development funds to the most poverty-stricken and backward areas had already led many to fear that the next battle ground after the tribal areas might be these areas as militancy was on the rise there.

Earlier, the Punjab Assembly witnessed hue and cry over the issue when a group of MPs hailing from southern Punjab favoured this demand. They also chanted slogans against the centralisation of powers and concentration of development in Lahore and its adjoining areas after it was pointed out that only a Rs 5 billion development budget was fixed for the Seraiki areas against over Rs100 billion for the central and northern Punjab.

The PLM-N top leadership is keeping quiet as only provincial minister Rana Sanaullah tried to counter those who were demanding a separate province. Now, Hanif Abbasi has joined Rana Sanaullah.

However, PML-N Senator Pervez Rashid told The News from Lahore that so far his party had not started any debate within its ranks on the issue. He said the views of the parliamentarians were their own.

He said that it was not only the PML-N where this kind of sharp division was being seen on this issue, but it would also happen with the rest of the political parties like the PPP and the PML-Q when their leaders start discussion on this issue. Pervez Rashid said discussions about new provinces or the administrative units take place all over the world and there was no harm in discussing them. But, he questioned those elements, particularly Mohammad Ali Durrani, who were in favour of a Bhawalpur or a Seraiki province, that on what basis they wanted the division of the Punjab.

He said if this was on the lingual basis, many other nationalities with different languages living in the province would also seek separate provinces. Rasheed also asked whether this division would only be confined to the Punjab or rest of the provinces would also face similar arrangements.

But some background interviews with some top political sources revealed that the PPP was set to raise this issue on a much bigger scale in the days to come, as it believed that this might play havoc with the politics of PML-N in the Seraiki areas and the party might exploit it in the next elections. Although, in the past this kind of debate did not generate much interest among the Seraiki voters during the elections, but this time, the situation seems quite different, as not only the PPP is backing this move but MPs from this region have also started making this demand in parliament for the first time.

PPP MNAs from Muzaffargarh Qayum Jatoi, Moazam Jaoti and Jamshed Dasti were the first to make this demand from President Asif Zardari in their party meetings and later they raised it on the floor of the House. However, this issue got more weight recently when Senator Mohammad Ali Durrani announced to launch a movement to get the Bhawalpur province restored in line with the commitment of then prime minister Ghulam Mohammad when one unit was formed.

The political analysts said the PPP knew it very well that this move would marginalise the PML-N to the central and northern Punjab as the south might go for a party that would support the creation of a new unit.

One source said the move by PPP leaders has already started paying the dividends, as the PML-N was being seen sharply divided after Javed Hashmi’s loud statement in favour of a province followed a furious outburst against this idea by Hanif Abbasi on the floor of the House on Friday.

But the sources said the PPP leadership would face the real test as and when it would adopt the issue as its official policy, and one would see how easily it might convince its Punjabi politicians about the division of the province.

Seraiki province: a bone of contention for manypak


  1. Voice for Seraiki province echoes in National Assembly

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009
    By our correspondent

    ISLAMABAD: As the debate kicks off in the media and the general public on carving out new provinces, the voice in favour of a Seraiki province echoed in the National Assembly on Tuesday when Sardar Bahadur Sehar supported the formation of another administrative unit to lessen the problems of the people of southern Punjab.

    Speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly, Sehar said the southern Punjab had been deprived of development despite having the ability to become the bread basket for not only Pakistan but also for South Asia.

    He said since 1970s, no major education institution such as medical collage or an engineering university had been set up in the southern Punjab. “If the people there do not get proper education, religious seminaries would benefit,” he added.

    He said from the development budget of Rs 137 billion for the Punjab, only a sum of Rs 5 billion had been allocated for the area with the population of approximately 50 million. “When we raise our voice for our rights, we are declared anti-Pakistanis,” he said.

    Sehar said in the historical 1940 Lahore Resolution, the rights of all the nations had been accepted. “We are demanding the rights granted in the 1940 Resolution and even in the Charter of Democracy,” he added.

    Rejecting the impression that the voice for a Seraiki province has been raised on the linguistic basis, Sehar said this demand was not raised on ethnic or linguistic basis but “we want that our issues resolved on our doorsteps. We want our files to go to Multan instead of Lahore,” he added. He said even the people of southern Punjab did not get the share of the National Finance Commission.

    The budget session was prorogued after the 18th day of the sitting, which began on 12th of June. National Assembly Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi read out the presidential order of prorogation.

    Voice for Seraiki province echoes in National Assembly

  2. ‘N’ to support Saraiki province on administrative grounds
    Published: April 16, 2010

    About the efforts of the provincial government for developing the Southern Punjab, Khosa said development schemes worth Rs 135 billion were being completed in the Southern Punjab and these were in addition to annual development programme and projects being executed in collaboration with the federal government.
    He said some of these schemes would be completed this year and others by next year. He said medical colleges were being constructed in Dera Ghazi Khan, Sahiwal and Bahawalpur, and each medical college would cost between Rs 1.75 billion and Rs 2.5 billion respectively. He said some elements were trying to gain political mileage by raising the issue that only Rs five billion had been allocated for development projects in Southern Punjab, adding that these elements, which could never get more than a few hundred votes, were also raising the issue of Saraiki Province.
    He said medical colleges were also being set up in Sialkot and Gujranwalla. He said if the government of PML-N was given a chance to complete its term, development projects initiated in Khushab and Mianwali would also be completed which would help alleviate poverty.
    While replying to another question, Khosa said the provincial government had adequate funds for wheat procurement and storage arrangements had been completed. He also said the government had given rights to the tenants of Okara.


  3. couple of weeks back while addressing to press outside parliament, one of the veteran leaders of PML(N) reiterated his keen desire in terms of love for Pakistan at the cost of the division of Punjab. In the same tone he apologized to his beloved abstract ‘Pakistani masses’ for being the part of Zia-ul-Haq’s cabinet. Yes, the same dictator, who abetted the racist Urdu speaking mafia in Sindh and hatched and supported the separatist elements in terms of so-called Saraiki nationalists to counter the anticipated emerging nationalistic movement of Punjabis to seek their linguistic/cultural, financial/economical and political rights like Bangalis, Sindhis, Pashtoons & Balochs. As the myopic vision of said dictator vis-à-vis UPite/Urdu speaking version of Islam and fake Pakistaniat couldn’t have cognized the true spirit of said universal religion synchronizing completely with all laws of nature. Having enjoyed the rule in Zia-ul-Haq’s de facto regime later on if Javed Hashmi couldn’t fulfill his desires to rule as Chief Minister or Prime Minister while being the part of PML(N), what is the fault of poor Punjabi masses from Sadiqabad to Attock, who have been electing his whole party’s 5th columnist Punjabis from Punjab??? What is the defect in central Punjab’s downtrodden masses from Lahore, who elected Javed Hashmi…and if his own party’s stupid leader built a road at the cost of 2 billion from Lahore to Raiwind, should the Punjabis living in miserable conditions in the slums of central Lahore, suburbs and in its proximities??? Who lives in the posh areas of Lahore & Islamabad, are they not the landlord Southern Punjabi/so-called Saraiki politicians and nationalists??? Who has been ruling on TAKHT-E-LAHORE & TAKHT-E-ISLAMABAD mostly since before 1947 from Punjab??? If Javed Hashmi desperately claims that whether his party gives him ticket for next election or not, he would carry on speaking truth…but I would suggest him don’t speak partial truth, as it is far worse than complete lie…so we Punjabis shall have to speak the above described full truth keeping in view the perverted nature of such Punjabi politicians…However loudly Javed Hashmi and his racist Urdu speaking mafia’s subjugated ‘Punjabi establishment’ carry on making Punjabis and some other native nations desperate having showed a bleak picture of this federation by projecting that ‘if new provinces are not made, it would be dangerous for Pakistan, and we (as Javed Hashmi warned) want Pakistan rather Punjab’…Hence let me explicitly reiterate that if any single existing province/entity/unit of this federation is divided, that would be the final nail in the coffin of this federation…! Therefore, I would say we nationalist want intact Sindh, Pashtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab as the peace and prosperity in this federation lies in the security of the said 4 units of this federation…!

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