The Executive Council on Creation of South Punjab province has in its maiden meeting agreed on establishing a secretariat under an additional chief secretary, either in Multan or Bahawalpur, as creating a new province is not easy under the Constitution of Pakistan.
A final decision will, however, be taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan today (October 29) at a meeting of the council constituted by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, official sources said.
A similar plan for establishing a South Punjab mini-secretariat was chalked out by former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif when his government was accused of ignoring southern part of the province and spending a lion’s share of the development budget in Lahore.
He did not implement the scheme.
Official sources said the council, which met in Lahore on October 26, agreed that a forward administrative set-up should first be introduced in South Punjab.
For that purpose, the government will issue a notification on the post of an additional chief secretary, who will head the set-up.
Under the additional chief secretary, special secretaries of key departments, having direct link with people, will be appointed.
The sources said that the secretariat will be established either in Bahawalpur or Multan, but a final decision will be taken by the prime minister.
The previous Punjab government led by Shehbaz Sharif had decided in principle to set up a South Punjab Secretariat in Multan, reportedly selecting office of the deputy commissioner of the district for the purpose.
This secretariat was designed under an additional chief secretary, having special secretaries of various departments under him.
“Shehbaz Sharif had just made the plan but we are going to implement it to facilitate people of South Punjab. They will be saved from (the hassle of having to go to) Lahore to have their minor issues redressed.
“The new secretariat will help them get their problems resolved at their doorstep,” a member of the council said.
The council member said the idea of the South Punjab Secretariat was discussed at the first meeting of the council tasked with discussing all legal and constitutional aspects of the creation of South Punjab province.
The creation of the South Punjab province had been one of the election slogans of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), with the party accusing the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government of totally ignoring South Punjab and focusing funds on Lahore.
Creating a new province requires an amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament, and the approval of the related province, again with a two-thirds majority vote of the assembly.
The PTI lacks such majority at the moment.
“The council has yet to discuss all the constitutional and legal issues,” the council member said.
According to the notification, the council shall work on behalf of the chief minister but it has no deadline to meet.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N should support the creation of South Punjab province, instead of criticising or objecting to the PTI’s efforts.
Speaking with media after his arrival in Multan from Islamabad, the minister said that the PTI needs co-operation from the PPP and the PML-N for the creation of the province as the ruling party could not amend the Constitution on its own.
Qureshi said that South Punjab province will be created through collective efforts of all political parties.
He pointed out that the PPP ruled the country for five years but failed to create South Punjab province.
It is easy to criticise the government and raise objections, but accomplishing a task is really difficult, the minister remarked.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
South Asia scorched by heatwave that hits 50°C in Pakistan
Tensions high ahead of Al Jazeera journalist funeral in Jerusalem
One killed in Karachi bombing by separatist militants
Sharif scion takes charge of Punjab province
Bhutto scion takes oath as new Pakistan FM
Female suicide bomber kills 3 Chinese teachers in Karachi
Pakistan rejects Imran Khan’s claim of US plot
No surprises as Pakistan’s new PM names cabinet
Shehbaz Sharif is elected new Pakistan prime minister