The Prime Minister has seen fit to plunge in the debate on new provinces, at a time when the presidency has said categorically that the President would be making no announcement about a new province on Independence Day. However, there is no denying that the idea is floating around, and has probably gained more currency than usual. Now PML-N Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal has weighed in with a novel if misguided idea, that the PML-N favours more provinces provided that they are formed on ideological grounds, not linguistic. Though Prime Minister Gilani deflected the question by referring to the PPP committee formed to examine the issue, his dignifying the debate with his office was itself a blow to the people of Pakistan. The holding of such a debate might serve certain partisan political purposes, but the existence or otherwise of new provinces would leave untouched the mountain of problems currently faced by the people, including rampant inflation, punishing loadshedding and the ravages of soaring energy prices. Apart from not solving peoples pressing problems, there would arise a new question: how would these new federating units be funded? There would have to be a new provincial capital and a new provincial paraphernalia of governor, government departments and provincial cabinet, high court, assembly and other institutions, all demanding the same level of comfort, and thus being as expensive, as present provincial administrations. Deserving of special notice is Ahsan Iqbals statement, which would merely create ideologies where none exist, and which does not recognise that there is only one ideology possible for any Pakistani province, and that is the ideology of Pakistan. This presumes one united nation, and does not break it down into its constituents. It is perhaps no surprise that the PPP, having failed to tackle the problems facing the people, should have started off an issue which served its own political ends, and would change South Punjab, where the PPP has been out of office since 1977, into a battleground. The only basis for breaking up any province is linguistic. However, this is an open-ended process, as where there are demands today for a Saraiki province in Punjab, what is to stop the demand tomorrow for more provinces, one in Sindh, one on K-P, one in Balochistan, etc. This is a time when political forces must not seek purely partisan advantage, but must all fight fissiparous tendencies, and refuse to dignify this debate by participation.