In utter violation of the Constitution, the National Assembly on Thursday pushed through a resolution for the creation of a separate province consisting of southern parts of present Punjab, setting off another political crisis in a scenario already surcharged with innumerable crises. PML-N legislatures, who were shouting slogans of “Go Gilani Go” against the backdrop of his conviction in contempt of court case, tried their best to resist the presentation of the resolution. They voiced strong protests, standing right in front of the Speaker, to register their objection to the unconstitutional manner in which the issue was being handled. Incidentally, the resolution was also not on the agenda, presumably to take the opponents off guard. The correct procedure, whenever it is deemed necessary to carve out a new federating unit, is clearly laid down in Article 239 of the Constitution. The provision stipulates that a resolution to that effect has first to be passed by a two-thirds majority in the assembly of the province out of which the new unit is intended to be created. It is only after this procedure has been gone through that the National Assembly could take up the matter and pass a resolution in support of it, also by a two-thirds majority. Not only was the National Assembly not supposed to pass any resolution for the creation of South Punjab without its prior approval by the Punjab Provincial Assembly, but, another painful aspect of the exercise is, that it also passed it by a simple majority. As if this was not enough of a disregard of constitutional provisions, the National Assembly also passed a resolution reaffirming its confidence in Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister.

It seems obvious that meeting one reverse after the other in the highest court of the country, the government is determined to violate law and Constitution, if that could help it hold on to power, unmindful of the adverse implications of this attitude. That, indeed, is a pathetic situation considering, especially, that the ruling coalition claims to be striving to strengthen democracy in the country. With the renaming of NWFP as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there has emerged a fairly popular demand for Hazara Province. And the day is not far off when voices for Jinnahabad would start resounding in the areas of Sindh inhabited by supporters of the MQM. The PML-N declares it is not against the creation of new federating units, if they were to be carved out for administrative reasons, but opposes the idea if it is on the basis of language.

The grave economic and security situation that exists in the country has become graver on account of the geopolitical challenges it confronts. This is certainly not the time to opt for adding physical divisions of the country to the political divisions that bedevil us, whether the reasons put forward are political or linguistic in nature. It is time for unity. Only then can we be able to get over these “interesting times”.