New provinces only through political consensus: PM

Abbasi says demands for separate provinces also coming from KP, Sindh and Balochistan

Says PML-N govt completed pending projects, including Lowari Tunnel, Kachi Canal and Neelum- Jhelum power project

BAHAWALPUR: Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Saturday that new provinces should be created only through political consensus as no single party can bring about a constitutional amendment on its own.

Addressing a public gathering after inaugurating the 45-kilometre long section of National Highway-5 that links Jalapur Pirwala with Uch Sharif areas of South Punjab, the prime minister said all political parties should incorporate the demand of new provinces in their manifestos and hold a dialogue after the general elections to evolve a consensus on the subject.

“The same demand also exists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh and Balochistan. People also talk about the creation of South Punjab, Hazara and South KP provinces. This is a political dialogue. All political parties should join their heads as no single party can decide this matter,” he remarked.

He recalled that only PML-N had passed resolutions for the creation of South Punjab and Bahawalpur provinces.

Referring to some parliamentarians of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who had recently announced their resignations in a press conference while calling for the creation of South Punjab province, PM Abbasi said they had been a part of the PML-N government for the last five years and they should have raised the issue then.

Holding press conferences two months before the elections would not help resolve public issues, he said. “Public representation is not won through press conferences but by public service,” the prime minister remarked.

The prime minister, who earlier unveiled the plaque of the project, said the Seraiki people have always been loyal to PML-N and the elected representatives who served them.

He hoped that PML-N would stand victorious in the next polls as the party had executed a record number of development projects. He also claimed that the incumbent government’s development drive had surpassed all achievements made by all Pakistani government’s during the last 65 years.

Further, the prime minister said that the credit of completing all pending projects of its predecessors also went to the PML-N government, be it Lowari Tunnel, Kachi Canal, or Neelum- Jhelum power project.

He told the gathering that the project had cost Rs 5 billion and said that his party had a strong reputation for completing development projects on time. Since its inception, only 20,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity was produced in the country, but the incumbent government executed power projects to inject another 10,400 MW to the national grid, he added.

He also drew a comparison between the development works being carried out in Sindh and KP provinces with those being initiated in Punjab.

PM Abbasi, who was accompanied by the Minister for Education and Professional Training Engineer Balighur Rehman and local parliamentarians, also questioned the inaction of the previous governments for failing to expand the network of motorways despite having the right amount of resources.

He said the PML-N government was about to complete its term and would prove all the prophecies of the so-called political leaders wrong.

He questioned as to why the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could not be signed during the tenure of the previous governments and mentioned the construction of 1,700 kilometres long network of motorways from Karachi to Peshawar, which he believed would change the fate of Pakistan.

As demanded by the local leadership, the prime minister also announced the construction of motorway interchanges for Bahawalpur and Ahmedpur Sharqia. Regarding the elevation of Ahmedpur Sharqia city’s status to district level, he said the legal hitches and election commission’s decision barred him from fulfilling this demand but hoped that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make this dream a reality.

The prime minister said that despite all odds, including ongoing legal proceedings against party leaders, the government still did not deviate from its development course.

However, in clear reference to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he said that political decisions should be made at polling stations only, while adding that history would not respect certain verdicts that were wrongfully implemented.

He said that Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for not getting a salary from his son’s firm but on Friday, he had been disqualified for a lifetime. “We accept this decision too. But keep in mind that history would narrate a different story,” he remarked.