FM seeks opposition’s assistance for creation of South Punjab province

Supporting the creation of new province on the desire of people of South Punjab: FM

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ISLAMABAD, Foreign Minister and Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Wednesday invited all the opposition leaders to develop a consensus and support efforts for the creation of South Punjab province.

In a series of tweets, the foreign minister said that the constitutional amendment in this regard required unity by all the political parties.

“I welcome all opposition leaders to put the longstanding desire of the people of South Punjab foremost. Together we must reach consensus on passage of a Constitutional amendment for the creation of a separate province for South Punjab,” the foreign minister said.

Enumerating PTI’s steps to deliver on its promise, the foreign minister said that as a party they continued to work consistently on recognition of South Punjab as a province.

“We have instituted separate admin, structure, budgets, jobs & benefits w/ over 35% (development) budget for S Punjab & ring-fencing to stop financial re-appropriation,” he added in a related tweet.

Through reform, he further posted that their focus was on the socio-economic uplift.

The South Punjab Civil Secretariat under an additional chief secretary was a manifestation of this as was setting up district development coordination committees to improve service delivery for ease & convenience of people of South Punjab, he added. Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday urged the opposition parties to come forward and join hands with the government for evolving consensus on the creation of South Punjab province. Taking part in the debate on the bill moved by Rana Mahmood Ul Hassan to amend the Constitution for the creation of South Punjab province in the Senate, he said the new provinces would end the sense of deprivation among the people of small units.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he said, was supporting the creation of new province on the desire of people of South Punjab.

The foreign minister said South Punjab was very backward and the PTI government had taken steps to correct the balance among the federating units. The funds allocated for South Punjab could only be re-appropriated for the region, and not for any other part of the province, he added.

He said keeping in view the needs of development; amendments were also made in the rules of business which had been implemented after approval by the Punjab Government.

The foundation stones of secretariats, he added, were laid in two important cities of South Punjab including Multan and Bahawalpur and funds were earmarked for their construction. Few departments had started functioning in both the cities.

“We want to take the process forward,” he remarked.

The foreign minister said the bill had been referred to the committee as the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs supported it as per the PTI’s policy. Unfortunately, he said, the PTI did not have a two-thirds majority in the House; otherwise it would have moved the bill on its own.

“All of us should shun point-scoring by setting aside political differences. We all should develop unanimity on the bill in the committee, and the same consensus should be built in the Punjab Assembly. We are also ready to cooperate in this regard in the Punjab Assembly to fulfill the longstanding demand of the people of South Punjab,” he requested the opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party. Qureshi said the PTI government had undertaken the initiative by establishing the South Punjab secretariats, and it would support any constitutional amendment and legislation regarding the new province.

The step would strengthen the federation and help provide due rights to the people of backward areas of the Punjab province, he added.

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