Despite having been a major Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) agenda before the election, the creation of “South Punjab” province remains a forgotten goal. This is of course nothing new for the people of south Punjab. Previous government have done the same; raised the issue of the new province to curry favor with the Saraiki speaking voters and entice local leaders; once the new government is formed, the issue is dropped from priorities and it continues languish unattended. Almost two years into the PTI tenure the pattern is playing itself out exactly as it has before.

This is after the PTI assured that this time it would be different. For a while, it seemed so. The party had absorbed a lot of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) dissidents from south Punjab and it had appointed a Chief Minister in Usman Buzdar who hailed from Dera Ghazi Khan – the southern tip of Punjab. Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mehmood Qureshi – two major players in the PTI – also hail from Lodhran and Multan respectively. If there ever was time and political capital to form the “Saraiki” province, now was it.

Yet this government’s past conduct does not indicate that it is ready to make a serious push to form a new province. Therefore, when the Foreign Minister called on Punjab Chief Minister at CM Office in Lahore on Saturday the discussion over the “establishment of southern Punjab secretariat” remained surface level and non-committal. It was an underwhelming moment; the public expected a more fleshed out plan to come out from this meeting of political heavyweights.

It is indeed ironic that the as PTI condemned the “false promises” of past leaders to south Punjabis, it continues to ignore the issue itself.