ISLAMABAD: A commission that the National Assembly Speaker has constituted to create new provinces only in Punjab, which has been quickly spiked by the PML-N, has no value or worth in the light of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the PML-N asked all of its three MPs, who were included in the commission by the speaker without its nod, not to consent to their induction in it nor should they attend any of its sessions if called, party spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid told ‘The News’.
He said that these MPs – Begum Tehmina Daultana (Vehari), Rafique Rajwana (Multan) and Chaudhry Saud Majeed (Bahawalpur) – have been inducted in the commission for the mere fact that they hail from south Punjab. “Why are they after the division of Punjab alone?” Pervez Rashid asked and said that there were also demands for creation of Hazara and tribal areas provinces.
He suggested that the principles and parameters of having new federating units should be firmed up once and for all to apply in future so that such issues might not crop up again and again.
Clause 4 of Article 239 of the Constitution specifies the procedure to have more provinces. It says a bill to amend the Constitution which would have the effect of altering the limits of a province shall not be presented to the president for assent unless it has been passed by the provincial assembly concerned by the votes of not less than two-third of its total membership.
This means that after its passage in the two Houses of the Parliament, such a bill would have to be approved by the provincial assembly concerned with 2/3rd majority before its presentation to the president.
As is evident, this clause makes no mention of any commission that the speaker has formed on a reference from President Asif Ali Zardari. Similarly, it doesn’t talk about any role of the president or his reference to the speaker. The two resolutions passed by the Punjab Assembly some time back have no constitutional or legal weight because the provincial assembly has to approve the amendment bill (not non-binding resolutions) with 2/3rd majority.
The speaker nominated 12 senators and MNAs for the 14-member commission and asked her Punjab Assembly counterpart to name two MPAs. However, the provincial assembly speaker has demanded increase in the number of Punjab legislators in the commission that is specifically meant for division of Punjab. He says it is unjust that the province out of which two new federating units are to be carved out has been asked to nominate just two MPAs.
Of the 14-member commission, the PPP has five MPs: four from Punjab and one from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Three of the four MPs belonging to Punjab - Syed Ali Musa Gilani (Multan), Arif Aziz Sheikh (Bahawalpur) and Jamshed Ahmed Dasti (Muzaffargarh), come from Seraiki belt while Syeda Sughra Imam is from Jhang.
Senator Pervez Rashid said that new provinces should be created wherever they were required all over Pakistan, but this issue must be resolved permanently. He described the present commission as a political stunt and said it had been put up to take political mileage and exploit voters by sending a misleading message to them.
He said that the move did not make any sense when the government was at the fag end of its tenure and it knew that it could not push through the constitutional amendment now. It also knows very well that the opposition parties would not support such a constitutional change.
Pervez Rashid said that had the government been sincere in having more provinces, it should have taken up this initiative over four years back when it came in place. He said that the regime was resorting to such gimmicks now when it had nothing to show to the voters to attract them.
The PML-N leader said that a universally acceptable commission should evolve a consensus whether the distance from the provincial capital should be the basis for making that area an independent province or the population of a certain region should be made a ground for a new federating unit etc.
He said that the issue should not be taken lightly and non-seriously as had been done while constituting the commission.