ISLAMABAD - The major opposition party in the National Assembly, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Tuesday came with a fresh demand on the creation of new provinces in Punjab, saying that the commission for the purpose should be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the government said it was open to talks with the PML-N on the issue and the composition of already formed parliamentary commission could be changed but the opposition party should not politicise the issue.

Amidst reports that the PML-N is engaged in talks with PPP over the formation of a national commission on the new provinces, senior PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique on the floor of the house said they did not accept the parliamentary commission earlier formed as it should be either headed a non-partisan technocrat or a retire judge of the apex court.

Saad said the PPP did not consult the stakeholders while forming the parliamentary panel and wanted to make the issue controversial for political mileage. He stressed that they should think over whether new provinces be made on administrative grounds or on ethnic or linguistic basis.

He further said no one should only talk to divide Punjab and called for a national commission all see where the people were demanding the new provinces throughout the country and then see its viability.

“The recommendations of that national commission should be sent to the provincial assembly concerned whose division is to be made,” he added.

The PML-N leader said the president’s message to the National Assembly speaker to form a commission on new provinces was illegal as the Punjab assembly in its two separate resolutions, passed earlier, had asked the federal government to form a commission. He said the creation of Hazara and Fata as provinces was also a demand of the people.

Later, Law Minister Farooq H Naek responded to the queries of the opposition and said the commission was formed under the Constitution in the light of a resolution passed by the National Assembly and two separate resolutions passed by the Punjab Assembly. He said President Asif Ali Zardari sent the message to Speaker Fehmida Mira under Article 156 of the Constitution.

He suggested if the PML-N had reservations on the commission, it should give its recommendations as the composition of the panel could be changed but Nawaz League should not politicise the issue.

“It is the demand of the people and they want to divide Punjab on administrative grounds not on ethnic or linguistics basis,” he maintained on the floor of the house.

Jamshed Dasti, a PPP MP from southern Punjab, launched a severe attack on the PML-N leadership for rejecting the parliamentary commission on new provinces. He said it party did not know the ground realities in the region where people were forced to drink water along with animals.

However, Anusha Rehman of PML-N said Rs 80 billion development funds had been allocated for the area during the current fiscal year, while the total amount spent during the last four years stood at Rs 500 billion, adding that Dasti should talk with facts.

Tehmina Daultana, another senior leader of PML-N from southern Punjab, wanted to talk on the issue before the session was adjourned to meet again on Wednesday at 5 pm.

MQM legislator Sajid Ali demanded that the PML-N should resign from assemblies instead of suggesting them to quit the coalition government, the other day, when it staged a protest walk out over the increase in POL prices. He said law and order situation in Karachi was worse since the PML-L led government launched operation in early 1990’s.

Khurram Dastagir Khan, also from Nawaz League, questioned who would accept the responsibility for bloodshed in the country especially in Karachi and answered in the same breath that those sitting in the Sindh government would have to accept responsibility.

He said systematic killings were going on in Karachi, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Two minority members, Dr Darshan and Dr Khutmal Jevan, raised the issues of minorities seeking protection in Sindh and of juvenile girl Rimsha facing blasphemy charges. Dr Jevan said the misuse of blasphemy law should be stopped as the registration of FIR against a juvenile girl had shaken the minorities in Pakistan.

Riaz Fatyana, a PML-Q MNA, moved the Political Parties Order (Amendment) Bill, 2012, before the Lower House, to amend the political parties Order 2002 with the aim to provide government funding to political parties according to their representation in the Parliament.

According to the draft of the bill, the funding should be auditable by the Auditor General of Pakistan and be placed before the Public Accounts Committee. The mover of bill said the political parties were poor and the politicians were rich in Pakistan and the legislation would enable the parties to finance middle class persons to contest elections.