While the issue of a separate Seraiki province has so far been raised mainly by the intellectuals and out-of-mainstream politicians, it is now on the agenda of the political elite also. The Seraikis have a language of their own. They also have a geographical habitat which is different from much of the rest of Punjab. Its Rohi, Thal, Damaan have been celebrated with deep love by poets from Khwaja Fareed to Dilshad Kulanchvi and evoke feelings not shared by their Punjabi neighbours. Its Pilu, once abundant but now a rarity in Punjab, also provides popular imagery to Seraiki poetry. While jhumar is a popular folk dance in Seraiki area, Punjabis are enthused by altogether different steps and movements of bhangra and ludhi. Unlike Punjabis who comfortably settled in Canada and parts of the US as early as in late 19th century and joined the British Army to fight wars in far off lands around the same period, the Seraikis have led till a few decades back a somewhat sedentary life. The tendency is described in the proverb: Safar-e-Multani ta ba Eidgah i.e, the Multani hardly travels beyond the Eidgah, constructed by a governor of the later Moghul era in 18th century on what in those days comprised the boundary of the city. Multan has retained a separate identity for hundreds of years before and after the Muslim rule. Under the Moghuls too it had its own governor. It was first amalgamated into Punjab under Ranjit Singh who was out to unify and extend Punjab through diplomacy, cunning and conquest in early 19th century. While Ranjit occupied Multan, Bahawalpur remained an independent state till it was made a part of One Unit and at the latter's demise in 1970 merged with Punjab on orders from General Yahya Khan amid widespread protests. A number of protestors demanding a separate status for Bahwalpur were awarded lashes by a military court. Numerous reasons have attracted people to the idea of a separate Seraiki province, the foremost being a sense of domination by Punjab. Having better access to bureaucracy and army, Punjabis acquired vast tracts of land in Cholistan during and after the Zia era. This was the latest but by no means the only instance of domination. Many army officers awarded land in Cholistan also hail from Punjab. This has sent a wave of resentment among thousands of local landless and small cultivators. While the region has produced powerful and influential politicians like Mumtaz Daultana, Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani, Mustafa Khar, and Sardar Farooq Leghari, compared to Punjab it remained deficient in educational and health facilities and in overall social development. In the present political set-up also, Seraiki area has prominent representation in the form of Prime Minister Gilani, Foreign Minister Qureshi and Advisor Finance Shaukat Tarin. But there has been no respite to the resentment against Punjab. Administrative difficulties provide an additional argument for the bifurcation of the province into two. Any person keen to get an administrative injustice undone is required to travel all the way to Lahore and if he is from a remote part of Rahimyar Khan or Rajanpur. He may have to spend almost twelve hours in a bus. Things would be easy he believes if he was to get his problems resolved at Multan, the proposed capital of the Seraiki province. The Seraiki issue has burst at the centre stage for the first time on account of the ongoing tripartite fight between the PPP, PML-N and Q League. With the PML-N having established itself firmly in Punjab, which is considered crucial in national politics, elements in the PPP hope to revive the party's fortunes by seeking a separate Seraiki province where they believe the part would win hands down. Others hope to use the issue as a lever to extract favours from the Punjab government. There are complaints that the PML-N has been unjust to the Seraiki areas by cancelling or delaying some of the development schemes initiated by the Q League administration. The Nishtar Ghat project connecting Dera Gazi Khan Division with Bahawalpur Division is off the agenda. While Mian Shahbaz has announced that he would gift a modern hospital to Swat, he has neglected the Rs 2 billion Dera Ghazi Khan Medical College, reserving only a pittance in the current years' budget for the project. No political party has debated the issue at its decision-making forums because of its divisive nature. The PPP, some of whose legislators have made mumbling sounds about injustices perpetrated on the Seraikis, is afraid to champion the cause for fear of losing support in Punjab. The PML-N is not willing to agree to a division of Punjab which is its power base. It remains to be seen if the issue will continue to be used as a bargaining chip by politicians.