LAHORE - The Punjab government will issue an executive order to make South Punjab a separate administrative unit, says Muhammad Basharat Raja, provincial minister for law and parliamentary affairs.

Talking to The Nation on Saturday, he said necessary measures are being taken to make the new administrative unit functional with effect from July 1.

This means that another chief secretary, police inspector general and other officials would be appointed for South Punjab.

The law minister clarified that a constitutional amendment would be required only when South Punjab was made a separate federating unit. An administrative unit can be set up through an executive order only, he said.

Analysts say that at present the PTI doesn’t have the required numerical strength in both houses of parliament to have the constitutional amendment passed. Likewise, it is not in a position to have a resolution adopted by a two thirds majority of the Punjab Assembly, a step mandatory for carving out a new province out of the existing Punjab.

The PML-N and the PPP have offered the PTI support for the required constitutional amendment. However, the ruling PTI cannot afford to pay the political price of the offer.

It is said that if South Punjab is converted into a separate province, the PTI’s support would be restricted to this region. The central Punjab would go to the PML-N, a situation the PTI cannot afford at present.

In case the South Punjab is allowed to work as an administrative unit, people of the region would be in a position to have their problems addressed close to their homes, without having to travel to Lahore, which is regarded by them as a far-off place.

With an administrative unit functional in South Punjab, if the PTI government serves the people of central Punjab better than its predecessor PML-N, it will get better results if the next elections, and may be in a position to have a constitutional amendment passed thereafter.