In the recent past, it has been the talk of the town to carve out new provinces, either on the basis of ethno-lingual or administrative demands. The purpose is to harmonize the administration and to promote symmetrical social and economic development in long-neglected areas that are marginalized, and left bereft from fundamental basic rights, including allocated funds and resources.

It has been an oft-repeated cry to craft a Southern Province in Punjab on the Seraiki speaking belt, to restore Bahawalpur State, to create a Hazara Province from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or to a construct Jinnahpur, a separate province for Urdu speaking Karachi based community from the province of Sindh.

To create new provinces on ethno-lingual basis is not only a daunting task but, more importantly, it is sensitive in that it can shake the bases of the federation by its domino effect; later, any community may demand their own province on the same parameters of the ethno-lingual aspect. For this, the administrative option to create new provinces seems more feasible.

A 2017 census, conducted by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, revealed that only Punjab accounts 52 per cent of the whole population of Pakistan. Even if the population of the remaining three provinces combines, they only make up 48 per cent. To redress effectively the grievances of the 12 crore people of Punjab, more significantly the woes of the Southern Punjab, it is an ideal time to at least create Southern Punjab. This proposition has little opposition from the masses, and has backing in parliament for two-third majority from PPP-P, PML-N, PML-Q and the PTI-led government. With such massive support from all parties, PTI government can easily fulfill its manifesto-claimed promise of creating Southern Punjab, but might take a new U-turn by backtracking from its promise in its fear of losing Lahore to PML-N. While only time will tell whether PTI lives up to its words or not, the new province will definitely equalize the power-sharing formula among the provinces with no political dominance of Punjab.

Area wise, Turkey is a smaller country than Pakistan, but it has 81 provinces for governance. Our half-brother Afghanistan is also smaller, but has 34 provinces. Similarly, Taiwan, a tiny island, has 22 divisions to run day-to-day affairs effectively. To cap this all, in the best interest of all, the Southern Province Punjab (Seraiki Province) must not be made another Kalabagh issue. The province can also serve as the pilot project to set the course of the other provinces in due time.

AAMIR KHAN WAGAN,

Larkana, February 21.