- Is Imran Khan planning another U-turn ?
Compared to central and northern Punjab, the southern region of the province has remained underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure, education and health facilities. Many in the region think that with a separate provincial assembly comprising representatives from their region alone and a provincial government machinery manned by those who understand Seraiki languge, their problems can be resolved more efficiently. The demand for a separate province is therefore understandable.
Political parties including the PTI however raise the demand more as a political slogan to gain power than out of a genuine desire to resolve the issues faced by the Seraiki people. Benazir Bhutto supported the creation of a separate province for South Punjab but the PPP which got NWFP renamed Khyber Pukhtukhwa and pioneered the passage of the 18th amendment through a historic consensus failed to redeem BB’s pledge to the Seraiki people. While the PML-N worked hard to make FATA a part of KP at the cost of alienating JUI-F, it did not lift a finger to create South Punjab province in disregard of its promises.
Imran Khan constituted a special committee way back in May to formulate a strategy for the creation of a separate South Punjab province. The idea was to lure the Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz leaders into PTI. The turncoats that joined his party never spoke a word of support for the province after getting ministerial posts. The PTI did nothing during its first hundred days other than appointing yet another committee to achieve consensus in the NA. As every offer by the opposition to support the government on commonly agreed points was described as attempts at achieving an NRO, the PTI miserably failed to build bridges in the NA .
The PTI wants somehow or other to wriggle out of its commitment to carve out the South Punjab province. Party leaders like Arif Alvi are talking about new difficulties in creating the province like the government’s current priorities. Foreign Minister Qureshi says the plan has encountered some legal hindrances. One way to get rid of the albatross is it to hand over the matter to another committee thus following in the footsteps of Shahbaz Sharif who forgot the South Punjab province after pep talk about establishing the so called South Punjab mini-secretariat.