ISLAMABAD - Some political observers are critical to the introduction of the 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill, aiming at carving out a single new province out of the Punjab, on the grounds if PPP was sincere for the creation of new province then why the two separate resolutions passed by the Punjab Assembly were not implemented in letter and spirit.

On May 9, 212, Punjab Assembly had unanimously passed two separate resolutions calling for restoring Bahawalpur province and carving out a new province comprising Seraiki belt, namely Janoobi (south) Punjab province. A week before this, National Assembly had also passed a resolution asking for creation of the Janoobi Punjab province out of the existing Punjab.

However, the ruling PPP introduced the Constitution (Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2013 before the Senate for the creation of Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab out the Punjab on the basis of the report of the Parliamentary Commission on the Creation of New Provinces in Punjab. Now, the Senate Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs while presenting its report n the Bill has endorsed the original bill introduced before the Upper House of the Parliament.

The ruling PPP and the major opposition party in both the houses of the Parliament, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), had divergent views on the issue. In the first instance, PPP wants that no province should be created out of the Punjab and it says that if PPP wants to do so, then the two separate resolutions passed by the Punjab Assembly should be implemented in letter and spirit.

Senator Farhatullah Babar, the Chairman of the Commission on Creation of New Provinces in Punjab, during the last session of the Senate rejecting the proposal of PML-N to carve out two provinces from the Punjab, instead of one, said Bahawalpur could not be restored to the status of province it never exit as a province in the past.

He said that the commission through its every possible efforts tried to search out any notification regarding the status of Bahawalpur as a province, but all its efforts ended in smoke. “The commission could not find any notification in this regard,” he had said. He had said that commission had communicated with more than two thousand people and a number of legal experts on the issue but no body could provide any evidence that Bahawalpur ever remained a province. He also said if the status of Bahawalpur was restored as a state, former sates like Swat and Khairpur would also make such demands

While Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in the same Senate session, had said it would oppose any bill aimed at carving out one province out of the Punjab instead of two.

Senate Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs considered the 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill in its three meetings held on 13th, 19th and 20th February, 2013, respectively.

PML-N lawmaker, Senator Zafar Ali Shah, as member of the committee opposed the Bill saying that the Parliament had no authorization to create new provinces as the Electoral College i.e. the population at large, has not entrusted any political party with this mandate. He further stated that Article 239 (4) entrusted the Parliament to alter the limits of a province and it did not provide any power for creation of new province.

Senior PML-N leader, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, senior, as member of committee also opposed the Bill and drew attention towards the Article 33 of the Constitution and stated that no province should be created on linguistic basis. He further argued that the proposed legislation would open a Pandora’s box for the creation of many other provinces, which was not a futuristic approach. He also said that under Article 239 (4), only limited of provinces could be altered and no new province could be created.