One of the events that have stimulated the political temperature of the country is the exodus of politicians from the ruling party in Punjab on the pretext that it is not sincere in making South Punjab a separate province. The demand of making new provinces is not entirely misplaced. Those who agitate for the need of more provinces have some genuine concerns.
While three more MPAs from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) have quit the party only to join Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM), assumptions are that the coming days are not easy on the ruling party. Speculations are that MNA Sultan Hinjra is also parting his ways with PML-N. If it happens, it will leave the ruling party with no representation in and from Muzaffargarh. While the ruling party can remain in denial calling the exodus of people from its rank and file as a conspiracy against it, the truth is that for quite some time, people of the region are demanding a province of their own.
Looking at ground realities, objectively, it becomes clear that people’s frustration over their poor state is justified. Masses rightly criticise the mainstream political parties for their truncated and uneven development vision that they have on offer for the province. Is this model of development contingent upon the number of seats of any city in the National Assembly? Dismissing such assumption is hard.
Having said so much, one also needs to question politicians who take up the issue of a separate province for people of South Punjab when elections are just around the corner. Does the political elite genuinely care about the people or it just manipulates the sentiments of the masses to get elected to office one more time? Only last time in 2013 elections, Pakistan People’s Party played the card of Seraiki province. Later on, the party failed to initiate any debate on the subject.
One can criticise the politicians of the region for the ill-chosen timings for the demand of separate province. It is also true that South Punjab’s districts are the least developed areas of Punjab. It is difficult to refute the argument that PML-N’s vision of development is Lahore centric.
While there is a need of giving a thought to the demand of new provinces, it is important not to focus on Punjab only. All provinces should be then redrawn. The political parties need to sit together to deliberate over the issue and reach out a formula upon which new provinces will be created –whether administrative units or provinces along ethnic lines will be beneficial for the country.