The Concerned Citizens of Pakistan Society (CCP) strongly condemns the government’s hasty move to create new provinces in Punjab. The Federal Government initiating such a bill, just before the general elections is a mala fide ploy, to gain political mileage in Southern Punjab. To carve out a new province should not be done in a haphazard manner. It requires a great deal of leg work and planning by experts and consensus amongst the citizens and their representatives.

The process of making new provinces should be initiated by the respective provincial assemblies that are to be elected in the forthcoming elections. Contesting political parties should provide detailed proposals in their manifestoes as to how they envisage the formation of new provinces. Provinces should be carved out on the basis of a uniform criterion, and if a real need exists, such process should be applied across the board. Half-baked efforts to make a new province at this juncture, for political gains, would lead to alienation of different groups, in turn undermining the federation.

The Election Commission has directed that no development funds should be distributed at this stage. Reportedly billions of rupees have been diverted to PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s constituency. These exorbitant amounts will be used to buy votes and secure him being elected. The proposed bill, coupled with the Government’s refusal to freeze parliamentarians’ development funds close to elections, amounts to pre-poll rigging. It shows government’s intention to influence, delay and maim the impending electoral process. In the interest of free and fair elections, we urge the government to desist from such devious practices. The members of the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) urge the Election Commission to make it mandatory for every candidate filing nomination papers for election, to any legislature, to file a complete statement of their assets and liabilities for the past three years along with verified copies of income tax returns filed over the same period. The nomination papers of candidates, who fail to make such disclosures, should be rejected.

NAUMAN ASGHAR,

Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP), January 31.