Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza has been refrained by the Presidency not to form a bipartisan commission tasked to formulate recommendations for demarcation of boundaries and reallocation of financial and natural resources for the new provinces in Punjab as a confidence building measure (CBM) between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as both parties are engaged in detailed and threadbare covert talks on the future setup and general elections, Pakistan Today has learnt.
A well-placed source told Pakistan Today that the commission formation had been delayed to accommodate the request by the PML-N which was against division of the Punjab province while the PPP leadership was using the new provinces card as a “blackmailing chip” against the PML-N. The PML-N though seems to be happy with the fact that the commission formation had been delayed by the National Assembly speaker “for good”.
“The ruling party’s leadership is using the new provinces issue as a double edged sword – to put pressure on the PML-N leadership to engage in talks with the government and to delay the move so as it could be used in the upcoming general elections as a popular slogan. Since the government had nothing new to sell to its voters in the upcoming polls, the party used the slogan as a litmus paper in the by-polls in NA-151 Multan. After the success of Abdul Qadir Gilani, it is most likely that the commission would be formed only when the elections were near,” the source added. President Asif Ali Zardari had forwarded a reference to the speaker NA on May 30. The president again forwarded another dossier to the national assembly secretariat on July 11 asking the speaker to respond accordingly to the task assigned to her but there has been a mysterious silence on part of the speaker. The step was taken after the Punjab Assembly and national assembly passed unanimous resolutions for creation of a South Punjab province and revival of provincial status of Bahawalpur. “A commission may be constituted comprising of six members from the Senate to be nominated by the Chairman, six members from National Assembly to be nominated by the Speaker and two members from the Provincial Assembly of Punjab to be nominated by the Speaker of the provincial assembly of Punjab,” said the Presidential reference. A source in the national assembly secretariat said that there had been no development on the formation of commission yet and no party had yet been contacted. More interestingly, the parliamentary leaders of major political parties in the national assembly and the senate state that there was no contact with them by the speaker’s chamber for proposing the names of representatives of their respective political parties for the commission. “We have yet not been contacted by the speaker national assembly or by her chamber.
During my visit to Jahania last week, I had made a public request to the speaker and deputy speaker to form the commission for new provinces but no contact has been made yet,” said Wasay Jalil, spokesman of Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) while talking to Pakistan Today. It is pertinent to mention here that the MQM has been a staunch supporter of creation of new provinces and its leadership has been voicing concerns about the delay in formation of the commission. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Secretary Information Kamil Ali Agha said that his party was also not contacted about formation of the commission. He said the matter would be taken at the party level when and if taken up by the speaker’s chamber. PML-N leader Mehtab Khan Abbasi also said that no contact had been made with his party for naming their representatives for the commission. He said nothing in this regard was sent him or to the opposition leader’s chamber. Awami National Party (ANP) Secretary Information Senator Zahid Khan also expressed the same, stating that no formal or informal contact had been made in this regard. However, he said he was unaware of any contact made with his party’s chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan.