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May 16, 2019

Qureshi seeks PML-N support for South Punjab province

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May 16, 2019

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday sought cooperation from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML) for the creation of South Punjab province.

Addressing a press conference here, he said a good number of people from the PML-N wanted to create South Punjab province. He, however, added that some friends from the PML-N were still entangled in the bill on Bahawalpur province, presented during the past regime.

Qureshi urged them to review their decision and cooperate with the incumbent government for the creation of South Punjab province.

“How is it possible to make Bahawalpur a province, which consists of only three districts,” Qureshi posed a question, saying the PML-N should adopt practical approach in this regard. Qureshi said for the creation of South Punjab province, two-third majority was required, adding the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) decided to extend cooperation for the province.

“Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) contacted PPP and its leadership hinted at positively,” he revealed. In the coming session, he added, PTI leaders would meet PPP’s Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar and Raja Pervez Ashraf to discuss the matter of South Punjab province.

Qureshi said they would try their best to pursue other political parties, including the PML-N, to create a consensus on South Punjab province which would further strengthen the federation. He also thanked Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Mir Balakh Sher Mazari, Nasrullah Dareshak, Rana Qasim Noon, Samiul Hassan Gilani, Pir Zahoor Hussain Qureshi and others for carrying out consultancy in the preparation of the bill and extending cooperation towards the creation of South Punjab province.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said amendments to some Articles of the Constitution, including Articles 1, 51, 59, 106, 198, and 218, would be required to help address legal issues for the creation of South Punjab province. He also thanked Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar for earmarking funds in the upcoming budget for South Punjab secretariat.

To a question about Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Tariq Bashir Cheema’s opinion on the province, Qureshi observed that creation of South Punjab province was a part of PTI’s manifesto. People from south Punjab gave mandate to the PTI for a new province, he said, adding Cheema was also aware of the PTI manifesto, when they (PML-Q) entered into an alliance with the PTI. The PTI will follow its manifesto and continue to move forward, he added.

To another question about amnesty scheme, the foreign minister maintained that it was not an amnesty scheme rather it was an asset declaration scheme. He said the scheme did not mean to generate revenue but it aimed to document economy.

Responding to a query about levying more taxes in the coming budget, Qureshi assured that burden would not be put on low segments of society in the budget, adding the government would continue to offer subsidy on electricity and gas in order to give relief to common man.

About the security of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Qureshi said his security had been rationalised only, adding: “Maulana Fazl is a respectable politician and the government is duty bound to provide him security”. He, however, added that if they themselves would pick up arms for security then it would lead to fanning private militia which was a negation of the National Action Plan.

To another question about India, the foreign minister observed they would try to engage new Indian government for talks.

To a query about expatriation of illegal Pakistanis in US, Qureshi said the government was reviewing individual verification for all these persons.

Responding to question on Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, he said Pakistan wished to avail gas but Iran was under sanctions.

“Pakistan needs huge funds to execute the project but international financial institutions did not provide funds due to sanctions on Iran,” he added.

About Pak-China relationship especially the issue of marriages, the foreign minister observed Pakistan was in contact with the Chinese government on the issue. He hinted that some powers wanted to damage Pak-China relationship.

To a question about the new spate of terror, Qureshi said some powers did not want to see the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project flourish. “All political parties in the country have consensus on nuclear programme, CPEC and credible minimum deterrence,” he added.

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