Commission on new provinces yet to get legal cover
ISLAMABAD, Oct 26: The creation of new provinces in Punjab prior to the general election remains a pipe dream since the parliamentary commission formed for the purpose has yet to get ‘legal cover’ and a notification specifying its powers is still awaited.
Sources told Dawn on Friday that the Parliamentary Commission on New Provinces in Punjab headed by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar had failed to hold its fourth meeting for over a month now as it has been waiting for a notification to be issued by National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza in order to remove some ‘technical and legal hitches’ before it could formally start its work.
The 30-day period within which the controversial parliamentary commission formed by the speaker in August was required to complete its job of submitting recommendations to the National Assembly ended on Sept 27 but it has yet to finalise its rules of business and terms of reference (ToRs).
The commission has so far held three meetings and not gone beyond taking a briefing from Law Minister Farooq Naek on the technical and legal points related to its functioning.
The sources said Mr Naek had suggested that the commission should ask the speaker to issue another notification specifying the commission’s powers and to provide a legal cover to the proceedings.
Following the law minister’s briefing, the sources said, Mr Babar sent a letter to the speaker’s office calling for issuance of the required notification.
However, the National Assembly Secretariat has not issued the notification as the speaker had been out of the capital for almost a month.
First, she went abroad for treatment and since her return to the country she has been living in Karachi and her hometown Badin.
When contacted, Mr Babar confirmed that he was unable to convene the meeting of the commission due to some technical reasons, but refused to disclose the details. “I hope that the fourth meeting of the commission will be held soon after Eid,” he said.
Talking to reporters after the commission’s last meeting, Mr Babar had expressed the hope that the commission would complete its task within the stipulated time and stated that they could even seek more time, if needed.
The commission became controversial since its inception as the main opposition PML-N objected to its composition as well as its focus on one province and decided to boycott its proceedings.
The 14-member commission was formed by the speaker on Aug 16 in pursuance of a message received from President Asif Ali Zardari and authorisation by the assembly on July 11.