Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has sought the support of all political parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), for legislation pertaining to the creation of South Punjab province.
After a press conference in Multan on Saturday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman made public the letters he wrote to PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif.
In these letters, Qureshi asked Shehbaz and Bilawal to extend their support for the creation of a separate province as a two-third parliamentary majority was conditional to getting the required legislation passed.
The separate province will comprise Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur divisions, as per the foreign minister. According to Qureshi, on January 17, a private-member bill was tabled by a senator of the PML-N that was endorsed by both the PPP and PTI.
The minister said the creation of a separate province in southern Punjab was promised in PTIâ€™s manifesto, adding that it was also the wish of 35 million people of the region.
According to Qureshi, the only hurdle to this is the absence of the two-third majority in parliament for which the PTI needed the support of the opposition parties. â€œLet us play a historic role in making this wish of the 35 million people a reality,â€ Qureshi added.
The FM said despite lacking a two-third majority in parliament, the PTI government still took measures to provide autonomy to southern Punjab.
These measures include the establishment of two separate secretariats in Multan and Bahawalpur, and provision of administrative powers to several government departments seeking to improve their capacity at different levels, he added.
According to Qureshi, in the light of their population, the people hailing from South Punjab have been allocated a 32 per cent quota in the government jobs as well. The PTI government also allocated 35 per cent of development funds to divisions in southern Punjab.
The creation of a separate province through a constitutional amendment will pave the way for a meaningful and lasting progress, he said, urging the PPP and PML-N to support the government for a separate province in southern Punjab.
â€œAs PTI vice-chairmanâ€¦I request you to nominate two members of your respective parties to the special committee of parliament which will be entrusted with the task of drafting the legislation,â€ he added.