BAHAWALNAGAR-Eight Bahawalnagar-based parliamentarians, who have resigned from their offices as a protest against the "exploitation" of people of South Punjab, demanded early formation of South Punjab province.

The parliamentarians including Tahir Bashir Cheema have joined hands to launch struggle for getting provincial status for South Punjab.

Tahir Bashir said that the poverty rate in the South Punjab is 51 percent while the rulers always exploited and neglected the local people. He said that they were forced to live under adverse conditions while all the funds were doled out to Lahore.

They also formed South Punjab Province Front. Balakh Sher Mazari has been named as patron of the new political front while Khusro Bukhtiar as president and Tahir Bashir as its secretary general.

They said they were supported by 54 parliamentarians in assemblies and a senator. Cheema said that provincial status of Bahawalpur was prerequisite. He said their forum would contest for getting back the provincial status of south Punjab.

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Eight estranged lawmakers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz demanded a separate province carved out of Punjab.

The demand was made at a press conference in Lahore Monday. Six MNAs, Khusro Bakhtiyar, Tahir Bashir Cheema, Basit Bukhari, Rana Qasim Noon, Tahir Iqbal and Balkh Shair Mazari, and two MPAs, Asghar Ali Shah and Nasrullah Dareshak, said they were resigning from the assemblies and the party.

They said they have formed the 'Junoobi Punjab Mahaz'. Bakhtiyar spoke of injustices meted out to the southern belt of Punjab.

"We have a bare 5% representation in the Public Service Commission," he said. "We are not treated as equals. A separate province is our right." Out of 58, only four judges belong to southern Punjab, he said. "There is no electricity in our areas but they discuss installing ACs in their Orange Line trains," he said.

According to him, funds are allocated for southern Punjab but never released. We need a new administrative system, he said. "A number of people are going to join us," he added.

The resignations come at a time when general elections are due in three months. PML-N faced a major blow when former PM Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court. Since then, it hasn't been smooth sailing for the party as the Sharif family faces corruption references.