ISLAMABAD - The lawmakers from ruling party (PTI) yesterday introduced the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeking to carve out South Punjab province.

The government lawmakers, as per the amendment, proposed that the province of South Punjab shall comprise territories of Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions having own provincial assembly and high court.

According to the amendment in the article of constitution, “in clause (2) in paragraph (a) after the word “Punjab”, the comma and words “South Punjab” shall be inserted. “The province of South Punjab shall compromise territories of Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi division.”

The House also adopted a motion authorising the NA speaker to form a special committee comprising treasury and opposition members to examine the amendment bill.

The statement of object and reasons of the bill say, “The constitutional amendment seeks to meet the long time genuine demand of the deprived region of the province of Punjab”. It further says, “It shall provide better administration and speedy justice. For the welfare of the deprived region and efficient administration, the present bill is being introduced in the house”.

PTI members Makhdoom Syed Samiul Hassan Gillani and Sardar Nasrullah Khan Dareshak introduced the private member bill seeking amendments in Article 1, 51, 59, 106, 175A, 198 and 298 of the Constitution.

The main opposition party, PML-N, opposed introduction of the amendment bill. “The government side is interested to take the credit while two similar bills had already been referred to the concerned standing committee,” said PML-N member Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Minister for Housing Tariq Bashir Cheema, after failing to grab the floor on the separate province issue, had given impression to oppose the bill. “What was the urgency to form the special committee,” he said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that there was a need to give right to the people of South Punjab area. He invited opposition parties to join hands on this constitutional amendment.

Another opposition party’s MNA from PPP-P Raja Pervez Ashraf said that it was PPPP government’s initiative to carve out Southern Punjab province.

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Qureshi, responding to the concerns raised by PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal about Gwadar incident, said there are some elements against the mega project (CPEC). “China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be completed at all costs despite all the impediments in it way,” said Qureshi.

Minister in an emotional tone said the enemies of Pakistan will be defeated. He lauded Pakistan Army and other law enforcement agencies for timely responding to the attack on the Gwadar hotel. “There is national consensus on the mega corridor project and all the nefarious designs will be foiled,” he said, mentioning that the completion of CPEC will increase Pakistan’s regional connectivity.

Some powers were not happy about CPEC and from time to time they put hurdles in its way, he said, adding these powers wanted to create instability in Pakistan and obstruct its economic progress.

He said these powers were funding people to use them as a tool to put hurdles in the way of CPEC. Hurdles were put before the nuclear programme of Pakistan but the nation fought back, he observed.