The Senate Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has considered the report on a new province, to be created by dividing Punjab, prepared by the parliamentary commission on the subject, and approved it by a majority. It seems as if the PPP members allowed their desire to toe the party line to overpower their membership of a revising House. They supinely approved the report without taking the opportunity to point out the fact that the report had not stayed within the parameters set by the Punjab Assembly resolutions on the subject, which call trifurcation of the province, with two provinces to be created instead of the single one now proposed. This might appear to be mere quibbling, but it renders the constitutionality of the entire exercise dubious. If the constitutionality becomes dubious, the matter will end up before the sole interpreter of the Constitution, the courts.

With this approval, which was rejected by the PML-N, which boycotted the parliamentary commission, the government has positioned itself to introduce the bill in the Senate, and have it passed there. Any bill changing the boundaries of a province has to pass not just each House of Parliament but also the assembly of the affected province, by a two-thirds majority. While the PPP might cobble together these majorities in the Houses of Parliament, there is no way it can obtain such a majority in the Punjab Assembly, where not only is it in the opposition, but the House has seen its resolutions flouted. However, if it can get the bill through the Senate before the next election, it will not have to face passing it again, as it would have to do with the other Houses, both of which are due for dissolution. Also, the numbers only favour it until the next Senate election, when the provincial assemblies elected this year elect their first Senators in 2015. The surveys for the time being indicate that the PPP might see a decline in the coming elections, which would indicate a decline in its Senate numbers.

Though PPP committee members, like Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, argue that the new province is being formed on administrative grounds. There is a clear linguistic factor at work, though not among the PPP, which merely wishes to hive off that part of the province where it thinks it has a chance of a majority. This political calculus has combined with those who favour a linguistic division. Neither has bothered to consider how the new province would be funded. The PPP has not considered the national interest, and the pressing need for national unity, in its rush to pursue purely partisan ends. Instead of using the last moments of its tenure to do something it promised the electorate in its last campaign, it should not go after hares it has started itself. Instead of inflaming public opinion, the PPP should work to educate it, and ensure that party is not put before the country. The idea should be abandoned until both the need is felt and the government has the requisite majorities.