Govt seeks opposition support for South Punjab bill

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Staff Report

MULTAN

Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi has sought help from all parties including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in connection with creation of new province South Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here Wednesday Qureshi said the house has delegated powers to speaker National Assembly (NA) Asad Qaisar to constitute committee to develop consensus and for consultations on bill.  An amendment is needed in Articles 1, 51, 59,106,198,218 of the Constitution. Two-thirds majority is required in the house to make constitutional amendment.

“We have to make the amendments to make South Punjab province a reality.”

He said when opinion was solicited from PPP on making consultations on bill their reply was positive. I am grateful to them.

“I have contacted senior Parliamentarians from PPP as they also had the stance for South Punjab…I have told them to work together to make this a reality and have received a positive response from them.”

Qureshi held the parties in the house which agree over the matter of South Punjab province will also be included.  No party is enjoying two thirds majority in the house.

He appealed to PML-N parliamentary leaders that they should also review their decision and let South Punjab turn into a province.  PML-N wants another province comprising 3 districts which is not correct technically.  However it is my request they should review their decision.

“We will also speak to the PML-N and I will request them to review their decision and let South Punjab be formed. They [PML-N] need to be practical as a province of three districts is not possible.”

He stated South Punjab province will consist of   Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions.

He remarked PTI has moved forward on its pledge in NA and a constitutional amendment bill has been presented. We had promised to give separate entity to people of South Punjab and now this pledge is heading towards fulfilment.

To another question about the recent announced Amnesty Scheme, he said that scheme has not been launched to generate revenue as per the past schemes but it has been aimed to expand tax base and make economy documented.

Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi responding to another question said that no international institution is ready to finance this project worth billion dollars and we have not own resources.

For any constitutional amendment, two-thirds of the parliamentarians would have to vote in its favour. The national assembly, Pakistan’s lower house, has in total 342 seats, which means the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf needs 228 votes to get its way.

The PML-N has 84 members and the PPP has 54 members in the parliament. So, in order to get the bill approved, the PTI would only need the support of the PPP, if the PML-N opts to stay out of the vote count. The PPP support will also be needed in the Senate where the party has an upper hand already before the bill becomes a law.

On Monday, a Constitution (Amendment) Bill was laid before the House relating to the constitution of South Punjab Province that was opposed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The bill moved by Makhdoom Syed Sami-ul-Hassan Gillani was approved by the members of the assembly during the session.

The House also adopted a motion authorizing the speaker to form a Special Committee comprising of treasury and opposition benches to examine this amendment bill.