ISLAMABAD - The question whether a new province being created by the PPP-led ruling alliance from within Punjab in south of the province becomes a reality is solely dependent on the longevity of Prime Minister Gilani in office.

 Following the passage of resolution in the National Assembly, Gilani has underlined his credentials as the longest serving prime minister on the basis of his track record as a consensus builder on the matters of constitutional importance.

The relationship he has established during the give and take of 18th, 19th and 20th amendments were demonstrated on Thursday by the backing of the PPP's coalition partners, notably the politically unpredictable MQM.

Quite simply, it has to do business with the government, as the PML-N, the main parliamentary position party and ruling party in Punjab, floated its own proposals for creation of new provinces and stated that it had no objection to new administrative units.

If it does not, the process of creating new provinces will not materialise in this tenure of the Parliament and it will be inherited by the next Parliament which is likely, according to most estimates, to be hung and any government emerging from it would by its nature be unstable. It means that the creation new provinces would likely die along with Gilani's parliamentary career.

The issue of south Punjab’s name can be resolved because the Seraiki and Punjab ethnic groupings have peacefully coexisted for as long as recorded history. Therefore, finding a solution would probably be a lot easier for the major parliamentary parties, PPP and PML-N, than it was in the case of renaming NWFP as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Article 239 (4) the Constitution has left room for creativity in the event of the creation of administrative unit. It says that any such proposal would have to pass by not less than the two/thirds of the affected province. Only then can a bill, presumably passed by the Parliament, be presented to the president for assent. But it does not define the process within the Parliament, although veteran constitutional SM Zafar surmises that it would two/thirds approval from both the houses.

The PML-N's proposal for Hazara and FATA provinces entails deep political complications. The ANP, the PPP's closet and most loyal ally, holds the veto of Hazara and is extremely unlikely to give up the major water resources that would pass to the new province. Rather it has for several years been applying pressure to back its proposals to merge FATA with Khyber Pk, and thus increase the assets of the province rather than giving them away. Because of the security situation in FATA and its strategic tie-in with events in Afghanistan any decision on FATA's administrative status would involve the military, to which the government has delegated great administrative powers in FATA as part of its counter-insurgency operations.

It follows that any attempt to pilot the political and constitutional process of creating one or several new provinces can only be taken forward by the proven performer - that is Gilani. He has already used his relationship to secure the backing of the two of the region's major power players, Abbasis of Bahawalpur and Makhdooms of Rahim Yar Khan, although they are not in PPP.

Whether Gilani was to give up the office of prime minister as a consequence of judicial process, any replacement would be short-lived because of the forthcoming general elections, thus not carrying the same political authority as Gilani.

It is a no-lose situation for the PPP. If the PML-N is seen blocking the creation of province in south Punjab, it would pay heavy price in the election and lose lot of voters in the region to PTI which is already very strong there. If Gilani was to be disqualified, it would rally the voters of south Punjab to the PPP cause, as well as consolidating its vote bank elsewhere in the country.