LAHORE - Sense of deprivation among the people of South Punjab is behind the demand of a separate province for them, Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa said on Saturday evening in Insight programme of the WAQT TV, which is hosted by TheNation Editor Salim Bokhari.

Khosa, who himself hails from the same region, said that the PML-N government was spending Rs35,000 per capita in Lahore against only Rs1,000 – or even less – in South Punjab. This disparity, he said, prompted the people to seek a separate province for them. Had the Sharifs ran the province judiciously, the situation would not have precipitated to this level, he said. Khosa was of the view that with the South Punjab getting the status of a province, people’s desire to move to Lahore would go down. He said there was nothing wrong with the plan to carve out more provinces since the establishment of three provinces in Indian Punjab had improved the situation there.

Answering a question, the governor said Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa had been set up on linguistic basis. Asked if the national economy could sustain new provinces, Governor Khosa said Punjab would not face any problem.

As for the demand that Bahawalpur should also be given the status of a province, he said: “There can’t be a state within a state.”

In response to a question, he said the results of the recent by-elections in South Punjab could be taken as a referendum that people wanted a separate province for them. He argued that those elected in these polls were the ones who were backing the demand for a province in South Punjab.

About the procedure for the creation of a new province, he said it should start from the province and go upwards, not vice versa. He said it would be ridiculous if the procedure started from the top and then the provincial assembly scuttled the move. “This will amount to ridiculing the Constitution.”

The governor questioned the locus standi of Mian Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Mariam and MNA Hamza Shahbaz for distributing laptops, purchased from the government funds, among the students. “Is it not pre-polling rigging? Is it not bribery?” he asked. He said he would have no objection if the PML-N provided the students with laptops from its own funds.

In response to a question, the governor said the expenditure of Rs300billion of the Punjab funds was not reconciling with the records. According to him, the Punjab government was not paying its outstanding electricity bills to the Centre, as a result of which the federal government could not buy furnace oil required to generate electricity. He alleged that Punjab was a defaulter on this account.

Governor Khosa was skeptical about the ability of the Sharif brothers to launch a long march against the federal government. He said those who were afraid of the jail mosquitoes and had struck a deal to live in comfort in Saudi Arabia could not be expected to start long marches. “They can’t go even for a short march”. The governor warned that in case the PML-N leaders launched any kind of march against the federal government, they would be pelted with eggs and tomatoes.