ISLAMABAD - The carving of a new southern province out of the existing Punjab was the hot topic of inconclusive discussion in Thursday’s National Assembly proceedings.

The lawmakers from both sides of aisle were unanimous to create ‘Southern Punjab’ but there was a difference of opinion on giving the status of province to the erstwhile Bahawalpur state.

With onset of proceedings, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif asked the PTI government to take steps for carving out southern Punjab province and also demanded restoration of Bahawalpur state as a province.

He said his party (PML-N) was considering tabling a private bill for this purpose. “Government should fulfil the promise it made in its election campaign,” he added.

Shehbaz Sharif also demanded debate on price-hike, especially the recent increase in the prices of electricity and gas.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked the house to form a parliamentary committee to decide the requirements for creation of southern Punjab province.

“First, there is a need of political consensus for creation of southern Punjab province,” said Qureshi, inviting all the political parties to support the government at Provincial Assembly, National Assembly and Senate for this purpose.

PTI chief whip Amir Dogar said that PML-N should not give a twist to the issue of creating southern Punjab province. “Everybody knows restoration of Bahawalpur province is not viable,” he said.

Shehbaz Sharif said he was not doing politics on this important matter.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said this government would try to make consensus to carve out the southern province.

Housing Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema said that Bahawalpur was a separate entity and it has nothing to do with southern Punjab province.

PPP’s Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his party would support creation of southern Punjab province. “It was PPP which brought this matter into the mainstream [politics],” he said.

Bilawal also agreed with the proposal of Opposition Leader to initiate debate on price hike in the country.

PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf proposed forming a committee to work on constitutional amendment required for creation of new province. “PPP-P will support the step for creating southern Punjab province,” he said.

However, MMA leader Maulana Abdul Wasay was of view that creation of a new province in Punjab would lead to people of other areas in the country to also demand separate provinces for them.

“I have no objections, but this factor should be kept in mind that people of other areas might also raise voice for new provinces out of their [existing] province,” he said.

BNP (Mengal) leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal said that his party would not oppose the move but all the existing provinces should also be given their due rights.

Nasrullah Daraishk from treasury benches said that PML-N was not serious about creating a new province. He however lauded PPP for taking steps for the creation of new province in southern Punjab.

Sanaullah Khan Masti Khail also cast doubts over the intentions of PML-N. “Now we cannot be fooled,” he said.

 Formation of PAC and committee on law

The House also passed a unanimous resolution for the constitution of public accounts committee and standing committee on law and justice.

The motion was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan.

As per the motion, Syed Fakhar Iman, Sardar Nasrullah Khan Dreshak, Akhter Mengal, Riaz Fatyana, Malik Amir Dogar, Munaza Hassan, Noor Alam Khan, Khawaja Sheraiz Mahmood, Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan, Ali Nawaz Shah, Hussain Ilahi, Ijaz Ahmed Shah, Raja Riaz, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanvir Hussain, Sheikh Rohail Asghar, Shahid Akhter Ali, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Syed Navid Qamar, Syed Hussain Tariq and Hina Rubbani Khar will be members of the public accounts committee.

Law and Justice committee comprises Attaullah Advocate, Lal Chand Mallhi, Farooq Azam Malik, Kishwar Zehra, Maleekha Bukhari, Sanaullah Mastikhel, Ihsanullah Tiwana, Agha Hassan Baloch, Sheikh Ali Arbab, Shunila Ruth, Riaz Fatyana, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah, Mehmood Bashir Virk, Usman Ibrahim, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Syed Hussain Tariq, Nafeesa Shah, Syed Navid Qamar and Aliya Kamran.

 National Anthem Played in NA

On Thursday, the house started the practice of playing national anthem in the house in every sitting. The national anthem was played after the recitation of Holy Quran and Naat.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri congratulated the members for setting a new tradition in the House. He said the anthem will be played after the recitation of Holy Quran and Naat at the beginning of every session.

The House had already amended rules of procedure and conduct of business in the National Assembly.