LAHORE - PML-F Chief Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi, widely known as Pir of Pagara, Thursday met the eight former legislators of PML-N here yesterday and announced his full support to their demand for a separate South Punjab province.

Pir of Pagara, who during the current visit to the city, called on the PML-Q leaders Wednesday and forged an electoral alliance with this party, met the eight PML-N legislators on his second leg of visit and backed their demand for South Punjab province, terming it a dire need of the hour for providing proper administration to the people of that part of the province.

Pir of Pagara held talks with the newly formed South Punjab Front Chairman Balakh Sher Khan Mazari, President Khusro Bakhtiar and others. Being a leader from Sindh, Pir Pagara told the city media after the meeting that they were closer to South Punjab as it was also in their interest. He said regardless of the fact who leads the movement for the separate province, he and his party would stand by the Front. “Our only objective is creation of South Punjab province which is a dire administrative need of the people of this region,” he maintained. He further said new political parties would also emerge with the creation of the new province and it would strengthen the federation.

To a question as to who was expected to rule Punjab after the next election, Pir Pagara said the PML-N would form government in the province even if Nawaz Sharif did not remain in politics due to cases against him.

To another question about his long friendly ties with Nawaz Sharif, he complained during the last four and a half years Mian Sahib never bothered to contact him even on phone. However, he had phoned him before the last general elections, he added. Pir of Pagara said they intended to form an alliance in Punjab as they had done in Sindh.

President of the Front, Khushro Bakhtiar who among eight had announced to resign from the Parliament and part ways with PML-N Monday reiterated the resolve on behalf of other leaders of the Front that they remained firm on their demand for South Punjab province  and it was the sole agenda of their movement. He said the Punjab Assembly and the Senate had passed resolutions on South Punjab province, but no headway was made on them later. After the coming elections, a fresh resolution would be tabled in the National Assembly for carving out a new province in the existing Punjab, he announced.

Khusro Bakhtiar also mentioned a number of deprivations being faced by 40 million people of South Punjab and said a separate province was their democratic right which should be acknowledged by others, showing their commitment to democracy.

Answering a question, Khusro Bakhtiar said they were not against creation of other provinces in the country like Hazara and Bahawalpur for the sake of better administrative needs. He lamented PPP took no action for five years despite its promise for a separate province and the PML-N too was not serious in solving this problem. He said: “Our people voted for us on our promise to make efforts for South Punjab province. Now we will leave no stone unturned to achieve the target.”

Khusro asserted it was now impossible to deny them the right of the separate province and every party would be obliged to support their cause otherwise they would not be welcome to the three divisions of South Punjab . He also told the media that new South Punjab province would make the federation stronger. He also told a questioner that a number of PML-N legislators among those from other parties were also in contact with them to join their move. He claimed they would be actively seen on the national political stage in the days to come and hoped their struggle would prove to be a success.