Dawn – NAB summons Shahbaz today in three corruption cases

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 20 August 2018. The National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) summoned on Monday former chief minister and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif for his alleged involvement in three corruption cases.

NAB has been conducting inquiries against Mr Sharif in different corruption cases, including Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme, Punjab Power Development Company (PPDC) and the potable water project.

Mr Sharif was directed to appear before the NAB investigating team at 11 am in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing scheme corruption case and at 2 pm again in the PPDC case.

The PML-N president has already appeared three times before the NAB investigating team and recorded his statements.

In the past, Mr Sharif had requested the NAB team to suspend its investigation till the general election 2018.

PML-N chief faces investigation in cases related to Ashiana housing, Punjab Power Development Company and Saaf Pani project.

The NAB team has now resumed the investigation after the general election and started summoning people in the cases.

In the PPDC case, Mr Sharif was facing charges of illegal appointments.

The NAB investigating team had rejected his reply to the questionnaire in the case and termed it incomplete and unsatisfactory.

According to a notification available with Dawn, NAB said: “You (Shahbaz Sharif) are hereby called upon to appear on August 20 at 2 pm at Investigation Wing-II, NAB Thokar Niaz Baig before combined investigation team to record your statement regarding nomination of Syed Farrukh Ali Shah as member NEPRA (Punjab) and his appointment as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PPDCL.”

Mr Sharif was also summoned in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme case over disclosures of former principal secretary Fawad Hassan during investigation.

Fawad was arrested by NAB for alleged misuse of authority and awarding contracts illegally in the housing scheme while serving as the secretary of implementation to Mr Sharif in 2013.

The clean water case pertains to alleged corruption in Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

Mr Sharif had earlier appeared before NAB’s joint investigation team in the Saaf Pani case and answered questions put to him by investigators.

The company was established by the Punjab government to conceive, plan, design, execute and manage projects for the provision of safe drinking water, in terms of both access and quality, to communities living in rural areas of the province.

His son-in-law Ali Imran Yousuf is also facing corruption inquiries in both the PPDC and PSPC scams. The bureau has written to the interior ministry to bring him back from abroad through Interpol.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1428054/nab-summons-shahbaz-today-in-three-corruption-cases

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Sikh24.com – Commission’s final report points toward Badal’s direct role in ordering fire on Sikhs

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 18 August 2018. The Justice Ranjit Singh led Investigation Commission, constituted by the Punjab government to probe sacrilege cases, submitted its final part of the report to the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on August 16.

Sources have informed that Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the state’s home department to take further necessary action on the full and final report on sacrilege cases.

Sikh24 has learnt that the entire report is in four parts. While Part-1 of the report was submitted on June 30, Part-2 submitted recently deals with incidents of sacrilege in SAS Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Roop Nagar and Patiala districts.

Part-3 is related to incidents in SBS Nagar (Nawanshahr) and Hoshiarpur districts and Part-4 covers the sacrilege incidents in Amritsar, Bathinda, Barnala, Faridkot, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Mansa, Moga, Sangrur, Muktsar and Tarn Taran districts.

In a video uploaded on his Facebook page, MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira claimed that the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission has disclosed in the final report that the former DGP Sumedh Saini has submitted an affidavit before the Commission in which Saini has admitted that the then Punjab CM Parkash Badal had called him at 2 am of October 14 i.e. few hours before opening fire on the peacefully protesting Sikhs.

Seeking a thorough investigation in this concern, Sukhpal Khaira expressed a suspicion that Saini might have been ordered by Badal to open fire on the peacefully protesting Sikhs at Behbal Klan and Kotkapura.

He said that the fact couldn’t be neglected as the former SAD-BJP led Punjab government did everything to shield the guilty police cops.

It is pertinent to note here that on being summoned by the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, the former Punjab CM Parkash Badal had refused to appear before the Commission and had said that he annuls the commission.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/08/18/commissions-final-report-points-toward-badals-direct-role-in-ordering-fire-on-sikhs/#.W3mBgrh9jIU

Economic Times – UK government distances itself from Khalistan issue

London – UK, 19 August 2017. The UK government has distanced itself from the issue of a pro-Khalistan rally organised by Sikh separatist groups at London’s Trafalgar Square earlier this month.

The so-called ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020’ rally, organised by Sikhs for Justice on August 12, triggered a diplomatic row as India had warned the UK to take bilateral ties into consideration before allowing groups that “propagate violence, secessionism and hatred” to demonstrate.

The so-called ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020’ rally, organised by Sikhs for Justice on August 12, triggered a diplomatic row as India had warned the UK to take bilateral ties into consideration before allowing groups that “propagate violence, secessionism and hatred” to demonstrate.

“Although we allowed the protest to take place, this should not be taken as expressing a view either in support or against. We are clear that this is a question for the people and government of India,” a UK government source said.

The comment followed reports of letters exchanged between Sikhs for Justice and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the “campaign for Sikh self-determination”.

Turning down the prospect of a “short meeting” sought by Sikhs for Justice with UK government representatives to raise concerns of the Sikh community, the FCO said it “encouraged all involved parties to resolve any differences through dialogue”.

“The UK is rightly proud of the long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and demonstrate their views,” the letter dated August 17 from the unnamed ‘Desk Officer for India’ at the FCO states.

“The British government acknowledges the strength of feeling in the Sikh community regarding the events of 1984, including events at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We encourage all states to ensure that their domestic laws meet international human rights standards,” it adds.

Sikhs for Justice, which hailed its announcement of a global non-binding referendum on so-called “Punjab Independence” in November 2020 at the rally, described the FCO response as “very encouraging”.

“The response of the UK’s Foreign Office on pro-Khalistan rally is very encouraging and we will continue to engage foreign governments on the issue of Sikhs right of self-determination and demand to hold referendum to determine the status of Punjab,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to the group.

I was on the square myself, we were peacefully campaigning for the right of self-determination, we did not propagate violence or hatred
Man in Blue

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/uk-government-distances-itself-from-khalistan-issue/articleshow/65459415.cms

Dawn – ‘Navjot, we want peace’: Sidhu talks about encounter with General Bajwa, what to expect from PM Khan

NDTV 19 August 2018. Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in an interview with NDTV on Saturday opened up about his exchange with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Jawed Bajwa during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony, and shared what he thinks India could expect from the new Pakistani PM.

Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan, on Khan’s invitation, had sparked backlash from conservative quarters in India, including Haryana Minister Anil Vij and activists belonging to Indian PM Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, who criticised the Indian politician and called him ‘disloyal’ for visiting Pakistan.

Photos of the event showing Army chief General Bajwa hugging Sidhu also prompted curiosity about what had transpired between the army chief and Indian politician.

‘Khan was not nervous’

Sidhu said it was a “great honour” to have been invited to Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.

“It was a very humbling kind of experience that a 35-year-old relationship of trust culminated in an invitation from him when he became prime minister of Pakistan.”

When asked whether Khan seemed nervous during the ceremony, Sidhu laughed. “Not at all, he was not nervous. I personally feel he was as confident as I’ve always seem him.”

“After the swearing in, he walked up to me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘Thank you very much for coming,’ and then he said, like an elder brother would say to a younger brother, ‘Shabaash, I’m proud of you.'”

“Then we had a conversation for almost 30 to 40 minutes at the Secretariat where he met the winning World Cup team and I was with them. So it’s just a great feeling, to be part of all this, part of [the] celebration.”

General Bajwa’s gesture of goodwill

When asked why he had met General Bajwa twice at the ceremony, Sidhu clarified that General Bajwa was not the only military man to greet him at PM Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.

“All the three army chiefs had to come and meet the people sitting in the front row, so I met the naval chief and the air marshall as well. And in between, Bajwa sahab walks up to me and says, ‘You know, I’m a general who wanted to be a cricketer.’ So it was his dream.”

On his second encounter with the general, Sidhu said: “He [General Bajwa] was very warm and he said, ‘Navjot, we want peace.’ That was wonderful to hear.”

“Without me saying anything, he said that, ‘When you celebrate the 550th birthday of Baba Nanak … we’ll open the Kartarpur-Sahib Corridor.’ It was like a dream come true and I was so overjoyed.”

“He asked, ‘Happy?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I’m very happy,’ and he came forward and said, ‘We’ll even think of doing better things,'” Sidhu told NDTV.

Sidhu also said that he and General Bajwa also bonded over their shared lineage: “He’s a [Punjabi] Jat. Bajwas, Cheemas, Sidhus, Sandhus, they come from the Jat family.”

What to expect from PM Khan

When asked what one could expect from the new prime minister, Navjot appeared sure that “there will be no compromises. He will not compromise.”

“The second thing that I can be very sure of is that he has clarity of thought. He will listen to everybody, but he will do what he thinks is the right perspective.”

“When you have someone that you feel is a person of credibility, of trust, someone who’s gone through the ordeal of life, someone who’s actually taken those hard, tough tests and had the tenacity to claw out of those difficult situations, because character is not made in a crisis, it is exhibited, and that is where I am coming from,” he said.

“I have hope, and I have that trust. Only time will tell, the next six months, one year. Because nobody can actually come up with a policy and implement it in five months, six months. That’s too early. I think you’ve got to give someone at least a year to assess the direction in which he is going to go.”

“And there’s one thing I am sure about, he will be taking the positive direction and according to me, positive anything is better than negative nothing.”

‘Hope India takes step towards Pakistan’

Recalling PM Khan’s first address to the nation after the election, in which the PTI chief had said if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two, Sidhu expressed hope that “India takes that one step.

However, he added, “Whatever has to be done, has to be done by the government.”

“I think we need to take cognisance of the fact that this is a change, and any change will bring hope,” he added.

“I pray to God that India takes that one step, because this is something which is new, this is something which is a new dawn, and ultimately, if we have to move forward [with] peace and talks on the table, moving in a positive direction is the only way.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427992/navjot-we-want-peace-sidhu-talks-about-encounter-with-gen-bajwa-what-to-expect-from-pm-khan

The Tribune – Promising Czech visa, couple dupes 5 youths of Rs 39 lakh

Tribune News Service

Moga – Panjab – India, 17 August 2018. A couple running a travel agency in Moga city has duped five youths of Rs 39 lakh on the pretext of sending them to the Czech Republic.

The police after conducting a preliminary inquiry have registered a case under Sections 420, 406, 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012, against the couple identified as Gurdhir Singh and his wife Avneet Kaur.

Investigation officer Inspector Lakhwinder Singh told mediapersons that the couple had shut down their office and their whereabouts were not known. “We have conducted raids at their house, but they were not present there. We are making all efforts to nab them,” he said.

Baltej Singh of Sukhanand village, one of the victims, said he was working as a radiographer at a private hospital in Moga city where Avneet came for a medical check-up a few months ago.

She told him that she was running a travel agency that helped to send skilled workers to European countries. She promised to send him to the Czech Republic.

Baltej went to her office where she took his passport and filled certain forms for obtaining visa. He gave her Rs 7 lakh by transferring it through bank.

On February 22, Avneet and her husband asked him to visit Delhi for obtaining visa, but he did not get it. When he visited the couple’s office, it was found locked. He tried to locate them, but in vain.

Later, he gave a complaint to the SSP who marked an inquiry into it. The anti-human trafficking cell of the police conducted an inquiry and found that many youths were duped by the couple.

During the inquiry, it came to light that the couple duped Amandeep Singh of Gulab Singh Wala village of Rs 7.5 lakh, Sohan Singh of Mehna village of Rs 7.5 lakh, Laljit Singh of Gulab Singh Wala village of Rs 7.5 lakh and Harjit Singh of Sukhanand village of Rs 9 lakh. The police did not rule out the possibility of many other youths having been duped by the couple.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/promising-czech-visa-couple-dupes-5-youths-of-rs-39-lakh/638747.html

Sikh24.com – Living martyr Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana questions credibility of ‘Khalistanis’

Sikh24 Editors

Patiala – Panjab – India, 14 August 2018. In a sudden breakthrough today, the death row convict Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana has raised questions over the credibility ‘Khalistani’ leaders presently active for the establishment of a sovereign Sikh state.

He has said that these ‘Khalistani’ leaders have made the entire Sikh struggle impotent by sledgehammering its ground base.

In a letter addressed to the Sikh community, the living martyr Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana has said that these ‘Khalistani’ leaders have nothing to do with an independent sovereign Sikh state and their sole motive is to divide the Sikh vote bank to deliver benefit to the anti-Sikh parties like Congress which they have been doing successfully for the last 34 years.

Raising serious questions over the working of these ‘Khalistanis’ during 1991 & 1992, Bhai Rajoana has said that these so called ‘Khalistanis’ had murdered 28 Akali candidates in the 1991’s Punjab assembly polls (boycotted by Congress and later cancelled by the Indian government) but didn’t kill even a single Congress candidate during 1992’s assembly polls instead paved a way for the Congress leaders to gain power in Punjab by boycotting the elections.

Making a sarcastic remark over these ‘Khalistanis’, Bhai Rajoana said that they had supported and funded the election campaign of the Aam Admi Party during the Punjab assembly polls in 2017. He added that these ‘Khalistanis’ regard AAP as their political wing and Kejriwal as their president.

Questioning the embedment of these ‘Khalistanis’ with the Congress, Bhai Rajoana said that these ‘Khalistanis’ start talking about state’s atrocities on Sikhs when Congress lose power and sit silently when it comes to power. He added that with the formation of Congress government in Punjab, the ‘Khalistan’ of these ‘Khalistanis’ comes into existence.

Making a shocking revelation about an unsuccessful attempt by these ‘Khalistanis’ to purchase him, Bhai Rajoana has said that a ‘self-styled’ intellectual Professor Prabhsharndeep Singh had tried to bribe his sister with claims of providing large ransoms of money in 2012 and had asked him to make statements against the then ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.

“But when I gave them a befitted reply by appealing the Akal Takht Jathedar to issue an edict against the Congress, then these ‘Khalistanis’ had resorted to cheap kind of preachment against me over social media” he added.

Appealing the Sikh youths to remain aware of these ‘Khalistanis’, Bhai Rajoana has said that these ‘Khalistani’ are cooking their bread on the funeral pyres of innocent Sikh youths.

I think he is talking about Panjab based Khalistanis, but it would be good if he could be more specific.
Man in Blue

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/08/14/living-martyr-bhai-balwant-singh-rajoana-questions-credibility-of-khalistanis/#.W3ecMLh9jIU

Dawn – Indian cricket star Sidhu arrives in Pakistan for Imran’s oath-taking with ‘message of love’

Former Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday arrived in Pakistan to a warm welcome to attend the oath-taking ceremony of prime minister-elect Imran Khan, who had brought the 92′ World Cup home.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 17 August 2018.

Talking to reporters soon after his arrival in Pakistan, Sidhu said he had come to the country as a goodwill messenger and “with a message of love” to become a part of Khan’s happiness.

He said he was saddened today by the demise of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who he recalled had started the friendship bus service between the two countries.

Answering a question, he said he had brought a Kashmiri shawl as a gift for Khan. He also entertained reporters with a few couplets conveying a message of peace and love between the two neighbours.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Khan has invited several Indian and Pakistani cricket stars of his time to the oath-taking ceremony scheduled for tomorrow at the President House. President Mamnoon Hussain will administer the oath.

According to PTI Senator Faisal Javed, besides Sidhu, India’s former cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev had been invited.

Khan has also remembered his colleagues and invited Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Moin Khan and Aaqib Javed who had played the 1992 Cup final at Melbourne, Australia.

After having secured a simple majority in the July 25 general elections, the PTI is in a comfortable position to form its government at the Centre with its allies.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427553/indian-cricket-star-sidhu-arrives-in-pakistan-for-imrans-oath-taking-with-message-of-love

The Tribune – Sikh leaders push for clemency to Rajoana

Akali Dal delegation seeks day-to-day trial of 1984 riot cases

Tribune News Service

New Delhi – India, 14 August 2018. A SAD delegation led by its president Sukhbir Singh Badal met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi on Tuesday. The delegation’s meeting with the Home Minister lasted for about an hour in his North Block office.

The Home Minister assured the delegation that the government was examining issues raised before it by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

They include constituting a special court for day-to-day trial of 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases and commuting death sentence of terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana to life sentence. He has been convicted in former Punjab CM Beant Singh assassination case.

The delegation comprised of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal, DSGMC chief Manjit Singh (GK), MPs Naresh Gujral and Balwinder Singh Bhunder, and former MP Tarlochan Singh.

The meeting is a follow up to earlier two meetings of SAD delegation with Singh in the past one month. The Home Minister had assured to hold a joint meeting of Sikh leaders and Home Ministry officials around Independence Day with regard to issues pertaining the community.

The delegation batted for grant of citizenship to all Hindus and Sikhs who were forced to leave Afghanistan since 1989. It drew a distinction between illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam and those from Afghanistan who were forced to leave on ground of religious persecution.

Also, they sought free passage for devotees from Dera Baba Nanak located on the Indian side to the historical Gurdwara Kartarpur in Pakistan in view of the upcoming 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.

It sought Centre’s intervention for granting minority status to Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir. It also demanded rescinding of the amendment by the Chandigarh administration, which has made it mandatory even for Sikh women wearing turban or headgear to use helmets while riding a two-wheeler and ensuring security of Sikhs in Sikkim.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/sikh-leaders-push-for-clemency-to-rajoana/637578.html

The News – Hope for a religious corridor

Tridivesh Singh Maini

New Delhi – India, 15 August 2018. The Sikh community the world over is getting ready to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary in November 2019 of the First Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev.

Many would-be pilgrims wonder whether they will be able to visit their holy sites in Pakistan, including the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Narowal district, where the Guru spent the last years of his life.

Reviewing the preparations to commemorate the Guru’s 550th birth anniversary, Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh said he would write to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, requesting that Sikh devotees be granted free access through a special corridor connecting Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan for at least a week during the main celebrations for Guru Nanak Dev.

Over the past two decades, civil society activists from Punjab, India, US organisations like the Institute of Multitrack Diplomacy as well as large sections of the Sikh diaspora, have called for visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.

In 2010, India’s Punjab assembly passed a formal resolution in support of a ‘religious corridor’ from India to Pakistan to facilitate visa-free pilgrimages.

The Pakistani government’s response has been positive. In May this year, Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner to India, speaking at a function in Ludhiana stated, “We are considering India’s request to develop a corridor between the two religious sites”. However, a formal decision is awaited.

India too understands the relevance of the demand for the religious corridor, but cites ‘security issues’ as the main obstacle. Shashi Tharoor, head of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs and former minister of state for external affairs had visited Dera Baba Nanak, India, in May 2017.

Commenting on the demand for such a religious corridor, the committee stated that there was a: “….long-pending demand of people for establishment of an exclusive corridor from the Indian side to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through which pilgrims can pay homage without any visa or passport.”

Tharoor had commented that, given the current tensions between both countries, going ahead with this corridor appeared impossible.

As India and Pakistan celebrate 71 years of independence, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, is just one illustration of how Partition led not just to mass migration and personal tragedies, but also how communities were separated from their historic religious shrines.

Sikhs in their Ardaas (daily supplication) continue to pray for access to gurdwaras in Pakistan. In 2006, they received a glimmer of hope when a bus service was launched between Amritsar-Nankana Sahib, under the regime of former Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

The Sikh diaspora has also continued to lobby with the Pakistani government to renovate the gurdwaras, as well as for easier access – which has been impeded by tensions between India and Pakistan.

As a new government led by former cricketer Imran Khan takes oath, it remains to be seen how ties between India and Pakistan will shape up. In recent years, Sikh pilgrimages to Pakistan have been largely unaffected except for more than three occasions in 2017, when religious pilgrims were sent back at the last minute.

The Guru’s 550th year celebrations provide a good opportunity for both the Pakistani and Indian governments to work together and set up a religious corridor for a week, as requested by the Sikh community worldwide.

Joint seminars could also be held where scholars from both sides may discuss the relevance of Guru Nanak Devji’s philosophy not just in the context of Punjab and the Sikh community, but all of South Asia, which is afflicted by similar problems of poverty, and intolerance and militancy in the name of religion.

The Pakistani government could also move ahead on the Baba Guru Nanak International Project that was initially to be set up at Nankana Sahib. The project was shifted to Islamabad, with the EPTB citing land acquisition as the main impediment.

Indian Punjab’s minister for culture and tourism, Navjot Singh Sidhu who has been invited for Imran Khan’s swearing in, himself a former cricketer, at a press conference on August 2 this year had rightly suggested that celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary could begin from Pakistan.

Said Sidhu: “That is where I see hope. I am seeing an ‘umeed ka suraj’ (dawn of hope). I see him (Imran Khan) as an instrument of realising the dreams. I want to take my Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to Nankana Sahib to start the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.”

To begin with, India and Pakistan could allow Sikh pilgrims access to Kartarpur Sahib as well as other religious shrines. Cultural links between the people of both countries are currently largely restricted to movies, TV dramas, ghazal concerts and cricket.

In this scenario, the Sikh heritage of Pakistan (especially the legacy of Guru Nanak Dev) is an important component that has been captured very well by books like ‘Walking with Nanak’ by Haroon Khalid and ‘Lost Sikh Heritage in Pakistan’ by Amardeep Singh.

The next step would be to start easing the visa process. One of the reasons the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service has not been successful is because it is so difficult to secure a visa for the other side. In this respect, setting up consulates in Amritsar and Lahore would be an important step.

Many believe that Guru Nanak Dev’s humanitarian philosophy can bring both countries closer. At this point, all eyes are on India and Pakistan to see whether they will make a break from the past to grab this opportunity – or continue to allow other issues to take centre stage.

The writer is a Delhi-based policy analyst associated with The Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/355313-hope-for-a-religious-corridor

Dawn – PTI lawmaker submits resolution for south Punjab in provincial assembly

In an apparent attempt to fulfill the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s promise for the creation of a new province comprising the southern part of Punjab, a PTI lawmaker newly elected to the Punjab Assembly has submitted a resolution seeking the House recommend that the federal government initiate the process for the creation of a Southern Punjab province.

Arif Malik

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 15 August 2018. “This House strongly recommends to the federal government [that it] initiate the process of creation of Southern Punjab [province] immediately,” reads the resolution submitted by MPA Mohammad Mohsin Leghari.

The PTI had included the formation of a new province in south Punjab to their election manifesto in May this year while absorbing a political party calling itself the Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM; the South Punjab Province Front).

The JPSM mainly comprised estranged leaders of the PML-N who had formed the platform for the single-point agenda of carving a new province from the southern parts of Punjab.

Under the PTI-JPSM deal, the PTI was to set in motion the procedures to create a new province in south Punjab within 100 days if it formed the government.

Interestingly, the PTI’s bitter opponents, the PPP and the PML-N, had also been vocal in their support for a new province in south Punjab.

During electioneering for the 2018 polls, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and PTI’s Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced their support for the new province on the same day.

Addressing a press conference on April 15, Qureshi had said that the PTI endorsed the demand for the creation of a southern Punjab province “not for linguistic reasons but on administrative grounds to mitigate the miseries and sense of deprivation being faced by some 35 million people living in Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions”.

Similarly, Shahbaz Sharif, while talking to journalists, had gone a step further and said that his party had committed to the cause of reviving the Bahawalpur province as well as creating a South Punjab province.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also said in April that his party had raised the issue of the establishment of a south Punjab province.

“We will make a separate province (of south Punjab) and end the deprivation of this belt if you people support us,” he had told a political gathering in Multan.

He had also raised the slogan, ‘Ghinson, Ghinson, Sooba Ghinson’ (we will get the (new) province), in front of a cheering crowd.

According to Article 239 of the Constitution, the process of creating new provinces requires a two-thirds majority in separate votes in the two houses of parliament and then a further two-thirds majority in the provincial assembly of the affected province.

Given the current party position of arch-rival parties in the parliament, as well as in the Punjab Assembly, the creation of the province has become a complex issue.

The PML-N and the PPP, both a part of the opposition in Punjab and the Centre, will not easily let the PTI have the credit of a new province despite the fact that both of the parties had already endorsed the cause of a new province in south Punjab.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427151/pti-lawmaker-submits-resolution-for-south-punjab-in-provincial-assembly