As the debate over new provinces rages on, the PML-N is blowing hot and cold about precisely which argument it should stick to; the other day it was all for divisions on administrative basis, a position it suddenly withdrew a day later in favour of  the Pothohar province in the north of Punjab. What we can foresee is a jumbled-up map of the province. An attempt to huddle together South Punjab, comprising the Seraiki belt, the proposed administrative units and the Pothohar territory in the north will be counterproductive. The implications of all this on the local people who think quite differently from what is often debated amid blows and fisticuffs in the assemblies will be understandably negative, contrary to what the parties are thinking. The ideal way is to address the issues stemming from poverty, unemployment and administrative autonomy for the backward areas.

Obviously, not every area with a demand for autonomy or every ethnic community for that matter can be dished out a new province as a measure to afford greater contentment, since it will deepen the existing ethno-linguistic cracks. Already, there are a number of hotspots in the country that can become a sitting target for rabble-rousers. The ongoing squabbling and the farce of promises must end. Rather than tearing it into smithereens, the leaders have a duty to cement the society’s fabric together.