ISLAMABAD - Parliamentary Commission on creation of new provinces in Punjab has finalised its recommendations for one new province comprising Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur divisions, and Bakkhar and Mianwali districts.

The commission’s report was finalised and all the members, except PML-N members – who boycotted the proceedings of the commission, singed the report that would be sent to Law Ministry for legal vetting and giving it a shape of a bill, likely to be tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Sources in the commission informed The Nation that all the members were unanimous on naming the new province as ‘Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab’ and it was also unanimously decided that Bakkar and Mianwali districts should also be included in this new province because of their cultural proximity to Multan and Bahawalpur.

According to the proposal, the assembly of the new province would have 124 seats, out of which 101 would be general and the remaining 23 seats would be reserved for minorities and women.

Similarly, the proposed province would have 59 seats in the national assembly out of which 47 would be general seats while 12 would be allocated to women and minorities. In the Upper House, it would have representation equal to the other provinces, and hence the strength of the Senate would rise to 130 eventually.

Sources in the commission informed that Bahawalpur was proposed as the capital of the new province and both the offices of governor and chief minister would be at the same venue as the proposal of keeping one of these offices in Multan was disapproved by the commission members. Sources said that initially some members, in the light of the recommendations from various quarters, had proposed to have two capitals of the new province or have one of the main figures in the provincial set-up in Multan.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, Farhatullah Babar said that the nation would hear good news soon and added that the constitutional bill regarding the new province has been finalised. Jamshed Dasti, a commission member, said the members have signed the bill, adding the new province will have one capital.

The 14-member commission constituted in August last year landed in controversy when PML-N leadership decided that their members in the commission would boycott its proceedings as, according to Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, proper procedure was not adopted while constituting the commission.

Punjab Assembly Speaker also did not nominate two members to the commission from the provincial assembly. The speaker was of the view that as the new province was to be made in Punjab so Punjab Assembly members’ representation in the commission must be double the strength of the MPs from Senate and National Assembly. He even went to the extent that he would move the court against the constitution of what he termed ‘illegal and unconstitutional commission’.

Constitutional and legal experts said that in the given situation it would almost be impossible to carve out a new province in Punjab when the Punjab Assembly had boycotted the proceedings of the commission and the recommendations of the commission were in gross negation of the resolution adopted by the Punjab Assembly calling for two new provinces instead of one.

As per the procedure, after the affirmative nod of the national assembly, the resolution for new province has to be sent to Punjab Assembly where it would require two-third majority while just one-third strength of members could veto it, and the resolution would seize to exist there and then.

The commission comprises PPP senators Farhatullah Babar and Syeda Sughra Imam, ANP Senator Haji Adeel, PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha and PML-N Senator Malik Rafique Rajwana, JUI-F Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, PPP MNAs Arif Aziz Sheikh, Jamshed Dasti, Ali Musa Gilani, PML-N MNAs Tehmina Daultana and Chaudhry Saud Majeed and MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar.