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Bill for south Punjab province: PML-Q minister raps PTI for ‘not consulting an ally’

Bill for south Punjab province: PML-Q minister raps PTI for ‘not consulting an ally’

BAHAWALPUR: Federal Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema has complained that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) did not take into confidence its ally PML-Q while moving a private bill of ‘South Punjab province’ in the National Assembly.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the PML-Q minister expressed his dismay at his party being ignored by the PTI before moving the bill in the National Assembly and added that he would take up the issue with the ruling party leadership.

He said the PML-Q was an important ally of the ruling PTI both in the federal and Punjab governments and the leadership of the former should have been consulted before the move.

He added rather bitterly that if there was no consultation between the allies, what was the purpose of the alliance.

Mr Cheema, who is also the PML-Q’s secretary general, regretted that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had opposed the demand for the restoration of Bahawalpur province, which he said had been a fully-fledged province in 1950s.

He said if the PTI had some doubts regarding the popularity or legality of the demand for restoration of Bahawalpur province, it should either hold a referendum on the issue in Bahawalpur or seek opinion of the lawmakers of the area.

Saying that a “genuine demand” of the local population could not be ignored for long, and apprehended that a movement could be launched in the near future if the demand was not met.

The minister said that he did not understand on what basis the PTI wanted to create ‘south Punjab province’.

He clarified that those demanding the restoration of Bahawalpur province were not against the creation of south Punjab province or a Seraiki province.

Mr Cheema said the government might allow south Punjab province, but Bahawalpur province should also be restored as a separate province, which, he added “was a legal and constitutional right of the people of Bahawalpur”.

In this connection, he also referred to the annexation deed of the former Bahawalpur state with Pakistan on the desire of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and later its merger into the one-unit.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2019

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