South Punjab province creation bill to be tabled in NA: FM Qureshi

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that a bill will be tabled in the National Assembly for the creation of the South Punjab province.

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Addressing the media after a high-level meeting, Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken the decision to move forward with the process of creation of the South Punjab province.

“This is in line with PTI’s manifesto,” Qureshi said.

The federal minister said that as a two-third majority in the parliament is required for the creation of the new province, time will be required to create consensus [among political parties].

According to Qureshi, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, some federal and provincial ministers from South Punjab, the Punjab chief secretary and inspector general of police were present in the meeting.

“It has been decided that a bill will be presented in the national assembly in order to turn the South Punjab region to a province. Input and consensus will be sought from other parties on the matter,” Qureshi said adding that other parties have been apprising the government of their interest in the creation of the province.

“They also understand that the region has been deprived [of its fair share of resources],” Qureshi said.

“The Punjab chief minister said in the meeting that in the upcoming budget — keeping the ratio of provincial population in mind — 35 per cent of resources will be allocated to South Punjab,” Qureshi said while further adding that this share will then not be re-appropriated or channelled to other areas.

“This has been happening in every previous year, funds are allocated for South Punjab and then channelled to other areas as the year progressed — we have decided to not do that this year,” the minister said.

“Keeping in view the concept of devolution of power — and for the ease of people from the province — the decision to create a secretariat in the region has been taken,” Qureshi said. He said that Rs3.5 billion will be required to create the secretariat and 3,500 people will need to be appointed to fill the new positions created there.

He added that as the creation of the infrastructure for a proper secretariat will also take some time, an additional chief secretary and additional inspector general of police will be appointed for South Punjab.

“Out of the two, one will station himself in Bahawalpur, while the other will establish their headquarters in Multan,” he said.

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