Lahore: Senator Farhatullah Babar Chairman of the Commission on the creation of new province in Punjab and Senators Syeda Sughra Imam, Kamil Ali Agha, Moulana Abdul Ghafoor Hiaderi, Haji Adeel and MNA Arif Aziz Shaikh, Members of the Commission today formally presented the report of the Commission to the Speaker National Assembly in her Chamber in the National Assembly Secretariat. Syed Khursheed Shah, Federal Minister and chief whip in the National Assembly was also present on the occasion.
The Speaker National Assembly expressed deep appreciation of all members of the Commission for completing the assignment and thanked them for finalizing and presenting the report.
Talking to the media after presenting the report Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the report covered all aspect that were needed to be covered and also included a proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill to give effect to its proposal about the creation of the new province in Punjab.
He said that a Constitutional Amendment Bill that concerned the alteration in the boundaries of an existing province required more than adoption with two thirds majority by the National Assembly and the Senate. Even after its passage by both Houses of Parliament with the constitutional majority it had also to be passed by the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab with two third majority before the President could give his assent to the Bill, he said.
Senator Farhatullah Babar paid tributes to the members of the Commission and thanked all those who made presentations before it either in person or through communication. He said that completion of the report on such a critical and emotional issue would not have been possible without the commitment, understanding and cooperation of all its members. He praised the members of the Commission for demonstrating a remarkable spirit of accommodation without which he said it would not have been possible to achieve the objective. He also thanked the Speaker National Assembly and Senate Chairman for reposing confidence in the MNAs and Senators nominated to the Commission. He said that he personally felt that it was great education for him as experts and knowledgeable people made presentations about the deprivations of the people and the need for carving out a new province for addressing their grievances. He paid tributes to Senator Syeda Sughra Imam and her team for carrying out a comprehensive study supported with facts and figures that were irrefutable.
He said that the Commission was required under its terms to submit report to the Speaker National Assembly and also to the Prime Minister which it had done. He said that a copy of the report had also been sent to the Prime Minister. Further action on the report will be taken by the Speaker National Assembly as deemed appropriate, he said.
Recalling the events leading up to the report he said that National Assembly’s Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza formed the 14-member Parliamentary Commission in pursuance of a message received from President Asif Ali Zardari and authorization by the National Assembly in this regard.
The commission was composed of appropriate and proportionate representation of all political parties. The federal government did not form the Commission but it was created in light of the resolutions passed by the Punjab Assembly and the one passed by the National Assembly. No other provincial Assembly had passed any such resolution.
The Punjab Assembly had demanded that the commission should look into various issues involved including geographical demarcation, allocation/re-adjustment of seats in the National Assembly, Senate and the provincial assemblies concerned, seats of minorities and women, and other constitutional, legal and administrative matters.
He said that it was the right of the Parliament to amend, alter, accept or reject the report and the Constitutional Amendment Bill. Likewise, it was also the right of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab to reject it after which the President could not give his assent to it even if it had been passed by both the Houses of Parliament with two third majority. However, the Bill and the report is a powerful political voice in articulating the grievances the people belonging to southern regions of Punjab and demanding their redressal through creation of a new province, he said adding, “the echo of this voice will reverberate in the annals of time till the demands of the oppressed and suppressed people of the neglected areas were met”. The journey towards a new province in the Punjab may be long and tortuous and the road may be bumpy but the process is irreversible, the Chairman said.
He said that felt sad that the PML-N members did not attend the meetings of the Commission and the Speaker Punjab Assembly declined to forward names of two MPAs as members of the Commission. He said he wished they had joined the effort. However, they still have a great chance to make significant contributions to the debate in the Parliament and the Provincial Assembly if and when it came up for such debate.