LAHORE - Given the intricate Constitutional procedure to be adopted for the creation of a new federating unit, the PTI government will not be able to fulfill its election promise of making South Punjab province unless the PPP and the PML-N also support an essential amendment in the Constitution.

Article 239 of the Constitution provides the legal framework for creation of a new province for which an amendment has to be made in the Constitution with two-third majority of the total membership of the National Assembly and the Senate.

And, when the Bill has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament, the President will not give his assent to the new amendment unless the same is also passed by two-third majority of the total membership of the concerned Provincial Assembly.

According to present party position in the Senate, the PTI does not have even a simple majority in the Upper House to make an ordinary legislation.

In case of the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly, the PTI has got a just a simple majority not enough to pass a Constitutional amendment for creation of a new province.  

According to article 239 (1) “A Bill to amend the Constitution may originate in either House and, when the Bill has been passed by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House, it shall be transmitted to the other House. Under clause (2) of the same Article, “If the Bill is passed without amendment by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House to which it is transmitted under clause (1), it shall, subject to the provisions of clause (4), be presented to the President for assent.

Under Article 239 (4), “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 of that province by the votes of not less than two-thirds of its total membership.”.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has constituted an Executive Council to do the spadework for creation of South Punjab province unmindful of the fact that PTI’s government will not be able to make the required amendment in the Constitution.

Though the PPP and the PML-N have in the past supported resolutions in favour of South Punjab province, but in the new situation they may make their support to the Constitutional amendment conditional to some other piece of legislation which suits their requirements.

However, the PTI may get a face saving if it starts the required Constitutional process any time in the near future by tabling an amendment in either of the two Houses and put the PPP and the PML-N in the difficult situation. If the two parties support the Bill for a new province, one of the PTI’s election promises will be fulfilled.

And, if the Opposition parties oppose this move, they would stand exposed before the people of South Punjab, further eroding their vote bank in the southern region.