MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday unveiled that the new South Punjab province will comprise of Multan and Bahawalpur divisions and it will have 120 seats in the Parliament under Article 106.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while addressing a press conference, said that Senate seats will be increased as well after the creation of South Punjab while the new province will have its own high court and chief justice.
“The number of seats in the Punjab Assembly will be decreased up to 251 [after the creation of South Punjab province],” said foreign minister.
Qureshi further elaborated that an amendment in Article 218 would be needed for increasing the number of provinces to five and the government will seek cooperation from other political parties for getting a two-thirds majority in the parliament.
“The reason to establish a new province will be mentioned in the Constitution,” he said.
The foreign minister confirmed that the ruling political party has contacted the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in this regards and received a positive response. “I’ve suggested to jointly move forward with South Punjab. However, People’s Party has its own stance regarding the new province,” Qureshi said.
He added that the matter will be discussed into the next session with PPP leaders Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. “Other political parties that are supporting the establishment of the province will also be contacted by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI),” he said.
“PTI has a stance that the province will make the Centre stronger, however, we are not willing to win all credit of this development and want to share its credit to all. I would like to thank all the people who took part in finalisation of the bill’s draft. And I am also thankful for Punjab Chief Minister [Usman Buzdar], who had publically announced for a share of South Punjab in next budget.”
The PTI vice chairman requested Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) to review its decision by supporting South Punjab province. Qureshi claimed that various persons in PML-N are in favour of South Punjab.
Qureshi said, “The nation stands united in National Action Plan as all political parties had set aside all differences.” He said that 15 persons who departed to the United States during the 1970-80 era will arrive back to Pakistan and illegal residents will be deported. Qureshi said that the country will accept the return of its nationals after proper verification.
The foreign minister rejected further changes in the federal cabinet. While commenting over budget, Qureshi said that the federal government will try to decrease financial burden of the common man.
On rising tension between Pakistan and India, Qureshi said that New Delhi will complete its final phase of election on May 19 and polls’ results will be announced on May 23. He said that the new office bearers will be contacted by Pakistan.
The PTI VP said that the new tax amnesty scheme was different from the previous ones as past government had put all focus on revenue collection.
“The federal government has activated Benami Act 2017 and older Act of Nawaz-League,” he said. Qureshi said that the government was planning major reforms in Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for increasing tax collections and appointed appropriate officials to the institution.
Moreover, the foreign minister warned for conspiracies against the friendly relationship between Pakistan and China. He said that the country would fight against the conspiracies as some powers were not willing to see the completion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
He said that the government was also willing to complete its gas pipeline project with Iran which was delayed following the imposition of sanctions on Tehran.