Serious-minded people in the country, who had already been concerned over the increasing trend sweeping the land to think in term of narrow parochial interests, were deeply shocked and dismayed at the PML-N, of all the political parties, itself coming forward and tabling resolutions, in the Punjab provincial assembly, to divide Punjab into three provinces. If these resolutions pass through the required constitutional process successfully, there would emerge Janoobi (South) Punjab, Bahawalpur and Punjab that would consist of what would be left of the truncated province after the boundaries of these two had been settled by the national commission that the resolutions also proposed. The move would, undoubtedly, provide an impetus to a wave of demands by certain elements elsewhere in the country to seek the status of province for areas of their influence with distinctive ethnic traits or any other reason to be able to hold the reins of power there. People in states under the British Raj like Khairpur, Kalat, Swat, Chitral and Dir might turn round and ask for provincial status for them on the lines of Bahawalpur. Similarly, the Hazaraites, tribesmen in Fata, Pashtuns in Balochistan and some others would like to secede from their present provinces. And there would inevitably lurk the presently dormant demand of Jinnahpur by the MQM, that would start resounding in the political circles of the country, much to the chagrin of the PPP, which gleefully broached the issue of new provinces in an attempt to break the hold of “Takht-e-Lahore” over the country’s politics.

Apart from strengthening fissiparous trends, the resolutions would, in the process of their implementation, open a Pandora’s box of wrangling in the context of the demarcation of boundaries of the new federating units, the division of assets and other dangerous implications that the sundering apart would entail. The PPP, the main opposition party in Punjab, though in favour of dividing the province into two, with the new one covering the southern parts of it as Seraiki province, jumped at the opportunity offered by the PML-N for two new provinces instead of one and readily supported the move. Thus, the resolutions were passed unanimously by all the members present in the House. Looking from another angle one cannot help concluding that political opponents of President Zardari stand once again trumped by him.

The PML-N’s ill conceived move holds the seeds of making a Soobistan of Pakistan. Thinking coolly, the entire exercise initiated by the PPP has nothing to do with national interests or the good of the people; it is inimical to both. It is race, plain and simple, or a desperate bid by political parties for retaining or gaining influence to remain in power on which they sense they are fast losing hold. This is a highly dangerous bid and constitutes a clarion call to the well meaning sections of society to come forward and oppose it so vehemently that no party could dare pursue the issue of new provinces.