ISLAMABAD -President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday formally asked National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza to form a commission to submit recommendation on the creation of Janoobi Punjab province and revival of the provincial status of Bahawalpur.

The abrupt entry of the reference sent by President Zardari about formation of commission for new provinces came in the house sans the presence of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

The house after witnessing the remarks filled with appreciation and some suggestions only by the members from the treasury benches was adjourned apparently to avoid reservations and criticism from the opposition.

According to the message sent by President Zardari to the National Assembly, “A commission may be constituted comprising of six members from Senate to be nominated by the Chairman, six members from National Assembly to be nominated by the Speaker and two members from the provincial assembly of Punjab to be nominated by the speaker of the provincial assembly of Punjab.”

The message read out by Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi further says: “The commission shall look into the issues relating to the fair distribution of economic and financial resources, demarcation, allocation/readjustment of seats in the National Assembly, Senate and the concern provincial assembly and allocation of seats in the new province on basis of population, including seats of minorities and women and other constitutional, legal and administrative matters.”

It was also mentioned in the reference the commission shall submit its report to the speaker as well as to the prime minster within thirty days of its notification in the official gazette, which will be followed by initiation of the process of amendment in the Constitution.

“In order to address the grievances and to secure the political, administrative and economic interest of the people of the southern region of the province of Punjab and to empower them in this regard, a new province to be known as province of Janoobi Punjab be created from the present province of the Punjab. The provincial assembly of Punjab has also passed a similar resolution demanding the parliament and the federal government to create a new province of Janoobi Punjab and also to revive the earlier status of Bahawalpur as a province,” according to message of Zardari.

Taking the floor, soon after the direction of president read out in the house, PPP legislator from Southern Punjab Jamshed Dasti lauded the steps taken by the incumbent government for the people of ‘Seraiki’ area. He, however, demanded to include Dera Ismail Khan and Tank in the proposed province.

Another member from treasury benches, Bahadur Khan Sihar, also from southern Punjab, said this step would be beneficial for deprived people of this area, as they would get their due right.

“It is a wrong impression that Centre will lose its strength after the creation of these provinces,” he maintained.

Taking the floor, a member of PPP’s important coalition (MQM) Abdul Qadir Khanzada raised a point that people from Hazara area should also be given their right. Appreciating the president’s step, he also requested that the commission should also include Hazara in its deliberation.

It is relevant to mention that almost same nature of reference had been sent by the presidency back on May 30, 2012 to speaker office, seeking to form commission on new provinces.

About the legality of this direction sent to NA, the legal experts quoting rules and procedure says, as per rule-67 ‘on receiving a message from the president under Clause (2) of Article-56, the speaker shall read the message in the assembly and give necessary direction with regard to the procedure for consideration of matters required.

Earlier, the house after some deliberation on the bill ‘The Special Economic Zones Bill, 2012’ deferred debate till today (Thursday), as the ANP and the PML-N members expressed similar reservations, as what would be the mechanism of all provinces to deal with the matter after the 18th Amendment.

“There should be clarity in it,” said PML-N MNA Khurram Dastagir.

Opposing the bill, Pervez Khan Advocate from ANP said his party would not support the move, if the provinces were not consulted.

Sensing opposition from both the sides, PPP Chief Whip Khursheed Shah said it was not an ego matter as it could be brought tomorrow.

Speaking in support of the bill, parliamentary secretary Khurram Jahangir Wattoo said it had already been passed from Upper House in 2012 and by the CCI in 2008, adding that it was good initiative to bring foreign investors to Pakistan.

Earlier, PPP chief whip Khursheed Shah introduced a bill to provide for the establishment of Capital University of Science and Technology (The Capital University of Science and Technology Bill, 2012).