South Punjab Province

(Bilal Niazi, Islamabad)

According to 2017 census of Pakistan, total population is 207.77 million and the Punjab province has 110.01 million which is approximately 52% of the total population. There were 4 federating units in 1947 and till now Pakistan has still same number if federating units, while other countries like Iran which had 12 units in 1970, now has 31 and similarly India had 14 in 1947 now it has 29 units. Division of provinces or federating units into smaller units has become a major concern for Pakistan especially the division of Punjab province into two or three units.

There are many reasons for the need of a new province but the some of them are quite crucial, like greater population density in certain areas, developmental plans and their implications in the particular regions, lack of fair funds distribution and budget allocation, lack of infrastructure and employment in some areas etc. The area which is mostly affected by these issues is districts located in south Punjab which includes these cities; Burewala, Bhakkar, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Khanewal, Dera ghazi khan, Hasilpur, Layyah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahimyar khan, Rajanpur and Vehari. South Punjab has been neglected by many governments who ruled there, some of the ruling governments tried to raise this issue but it only reached the Punjab assembly and never passed in the National assembly. 27% of the population is below poverty line in Punjab but in south Punjab the percentage is 51 which indicates that every second person is living below poverty line and cannot even earn 3,000 rupees per month. There is no public sector investment in that region due to which unemployment rate is extremely high. Infrastructure is not developed; judicial system is in poor condition. Basic necessities of the people in south Punjab are not meeting their ends. One of the major issues is the unavailability of clean and hygienic water. Budget allocated to the Punjab province is mostly spend on the development plans of central and north Punjab.

Politically south Punjab has a major position in the elections. Punjab has 148 seats out of 272 in National assembly, and out of those 148 seats 46 seats are only from the three districts of south Punjab. All the parties who make government in the Punjab province need support from the south Punjab, if they can’t win at least 21 seats from south Punjab, it becomes difficult to make a government in Punjab including their seats in central and north Punjab.

Issue regarding the division of the Punjab province had been raised time to time in the past, like in 1970 and 2011. In 2013 the PPP government also proposed the name of the province as Bahawalpur South Punjab in the national assembly but the proposal was rejected. On March 27, 2017, the PML N government also issued a notification declaring the division on south Punjab on administrative basis but the notification was never put into action.

Today Pakistan is in an urgent need for the making of new federation units for solving both the progress and management issues of the areas. More units will increase the plans specified for certain regions and more development of small areas, it will become easy to manage them and every area will have the equal resources for progress.

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