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8 PML-N lawmakers break rank to demand new province for south Punjab

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Khusro Bakhtiar, a PML-N leader from South Punjab, held a press conference on Monday flanked by like-minded lawmakers to demand a new province “for the security of the future of the children of south Punjab.”

During his press conference, Bakhtiar explained: “New provincial demarcations are the need of the time. We are not here to start a rift — time has made the need for new provinces very apparent.”

“The demarcation of new provinces will ensure that funds allocated for Rajanpur are not given to Multan,” he continued. “All we want is equality amongst the regions.”

“We have a single point agenda: the creation of a new province in south Punjab,” Bakhtiar said while announcing that he, along with the other like-minded lawmakers, would be initiating the ‘South Punjab Front’ movement.

“The size of South Punjab is almost the same as Khyber Pashtunkhawa. We have 46 MNAs in the [National] Assembly at the moment and yet they gave us just one seat in Senate.”

Bakhtiar said that the South Punjab Front will take its message to the people through the media, through schools and through personal contact with voters.

“It is natural that all of us want that each district flourishes, has better law and order, and a better education system. For these things to be achieved, we need more provinces,” he said.

Speaking of the movement’s future alliances, Bakhtiar said, “We are ready for dialogue with any party.”

“Our goal is simple: when the new assemblies take oath, the legislation for a new province should be passed within the first session. If that does not happen, we will go to the Supreme Court,” he stated to cries of assent.

Tahir Basheer Cheema, another PML-N defector, said: “This demand [for a new province] is not a new one, it is a demand our ancestors made and a demand our children will make.”

“It is time we are given equal rights,” Cheema continued, adding that the demand for a new province is one that various South Punjab leaders have made throughout Pakistan’s history.

He added: “This need [for a different province in south Punjab] is not a linguistic problem. Our demand is simply to safeguard our rights.”

During the press conference, it was announced that a total of six MNAs and two MPAs would be defecting from the PML-N and resigning from their posts soon.

However, hours after the briefing, MNA Syed Muhammad Asghar said he would not be resigning from his seat or leaving the party, but would continue to lend his support to the movement.