DAWN, PESHAWAR, 14th SEPTEMBER 2013: The resolution moved by three Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly about the creation of Hazara province has landed their ruling party in the province as well as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in a catch-22 situation.
Top PTI and PML-N leaders have put their heads together on how to get out of the situation as before the May 11 general elections, the two parties had made firm commitments with their voters in Hazara division to give them separate province.
The two parties had won 16 provincial assembly seats from Hazara division particularly Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra districts.
Sources said Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and opposition leader Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan had discussed prose and cons of the resolution during one-on-one meeting held at the latter’s chambers in the assembly secretariat on Thursday evening.
An MPA of PML-N from Hazara confirmed that the two leaders discussed the resolution, but was skeptical about the fate of the resolution, which is likely to be tabled during the ongoing session of the assembly.
Three MPAs of PTI from Abbottabad, including Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, Qalandar Khan Lodhi and Sardar Mohammad Idrees, had submitted the resolution without taking the coalition partners of the ruling party, including Jamaat-i-Islami, Qaumi Watan Party and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan, on board.
QWP and JI have concerns over the resolution.
QWP spokesman Tariq Khan termed the move political gimmick and said it was illogical to create separate province for only two and a half districts.
JI wants a national commission to make a plan for creation of new provinces in the country.
“Our party is in favour of new federating units but it should not be carved out on ethnic or linguistic grounds,” said JI spokesman Israrullah advocate.
The move has also confused members of the ruling party in Peshawar, where PTI swept the May 11 elections, oppose causing divisions within the province on linguistic grounds.
One lawmaker of PTI said majority of the MPAs from Peshawar valley might not support the resolution and its repercussion would be very serious for the party in the Pakhtun-populated areas of the province.
“The CM might have agreed with the MPAs on tabling resolution in the assembly, but there is very clear division within the party on the issue,” he said, adding that if the party supported such resolution, then the people from Malakand and Southern districts could also make the same demands.
“Then what!” he asked.
In background interviews, members of the treasury and opposition benches believe that resolution had been submitted to create problems for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Punjab province, where different political groups have been demanding Bahawalpur, South Punjab and Seraiki provinces.
When contacted, Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak said creation of new federating unit was the constitutional right of the people of the region, but the motive behind resolution for Hazara province was to create trouble for the prime minister.
He said MPAs from Hazara might not garner support within the party to pass the resolution.
PML-N, which had won 10 provincial assembly seats from Hazara division in general elections, is at the crossroads in the prevailing situation.
The party neither opposes nor supports the resolution if it is tabled in the assembly.
“PML-N is in double jeopardy. If it supports Hazara province, then other parties can demand Seraiki and Southern Punjab provinces, and if it opposes, then it can lose support in Hazara region,” said Zareen Gul, an MPA of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl from Torghar district, which is also part of Hazara division.
One legislator of PML-N from Mansehra said leaders of PML-N and PTI were in contact to find out a viable solution of the issue.
He said both parties wanted to have a diluted form a resolution instead of demanding Hazara province.
The legislator said PML-N could not back out from its commitment and would have to support Hazara province.
“It can be a political disaster for PML-N if it opposes the resolution,” he said, adding that rival political parties, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement, would exploit the situation after the passage of the resolution.
“Creation of a separate province is a genuine demand of the people of Hazara, but division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should not be on ethnic or linguistic grounds,” he said.