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'South Punjab' gains support in Pakistan

The proposal to carve out a new province of South Punjab from Pakistan's most populous and politically crucial state of Punjab has gained momentum, with all parties except the ruling PML-N agreeing to it.

world Updated: Aug 07, 2011 20:52 IST

The proposal to carve out a new province of South Punjab from Pakistan's most populous and politically crucial state of Punjab has gained momentum, with all parties except the ruling PML-N agreeing to it.

Following a resolution moved by the PML-Q to create a new province comprising 11 districts in the Seraiki-speaking belt, the Punjab Assembly will debate the matter when it meets on August 11 for a session requisitioned by the Pakistan People's Party.

The creation of new provinces, especially South Punjab, is being vigorously debated on talk shows on TV news channels and in the media.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Punjab governor Latif Khosa, all leaders of the PPP, have underlined the need for new provinces on administrative grounds.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif, whose PML-N party rules Punjab, has constituted a committee of party members to come up with recommendations on the issue.

Javed Hashmi, a senior vice-president of the PML-N who has been sidelined by the party, has not only backed the move to create South Punjab but called for dividing Punjab, a province of over 90 million people, into four provinces.

However, Sharif and his brother Shahbaz, the chief minister of Punjab, fear the PML-N will lose power if the new provinces are created.

Some analysts have described the PPP and the PML-Q's support for the move to create South Punjab as a clever ploy to take on the PML-N in its stronghold of Punjab.