PTI govt seeks PPP, PML-N in formation of South Punjab

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 Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday the government had introduced the South Punjab bill in the National Assembly and sought the help of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to get it passed.

During a news conference, Qureshi said the bill moved by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government would require amendments in Articles 1, 51, 59,106,198,218 of the Constitution.

“We have to make the amendments to make South Punjab province a reality.”

The minister added that the PTI government had contacted Pakistan PML-N, PPP and other parties in Parliament over the South Punjab province as two-thirds majority was required.

“I have contacted senior Parliamentarians from PPP as they also had the stance for South Punjab…I have told them to work together to make this a reality and have received a positive response from them.”

The minister said several members of the PML-N supported South Punjab province but there were others who were stuck on the bill they had presented in the past. “We will also speak to the PML-N and I will request them to review their decision and let South Punjab be formed. They [PML-N] need to be practical as a province of three districts is not possible.”

For any constitutional amendment, two-thirds of the parliamentarians would have to vote in its favour. The national assembly, Pakistan’s lower house, has in total 342 seats, which means the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf needs 228 votes to get its way.

The PML-N has 84 members and the PPP has 54 members in the parliament. So, in order to get the bill approved, the PTI would only need the support of the PPP, if the PML-N opts to stay out of the vote count. The PPP support will also be needed in the Senate where the party has an upper hand already before the bill becomes a law.