Pak court questions govt's move to create new states
Lahore: A Pakistani court has questioned the legal status of a parliamentary commission on forming new provinces, reflecting the growing tensions between the ruling Pakistan People's Party and the superior judiciary.
While hearing a petition challenging the parliamentary commission which has recommended the formation of a new province to be carved out of southern Punjab, a bench of the Lahore High Court observed that the incumbent assemblies have "no mandate to create new provinces."
Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan, a member of the bench, said: "The political parties sitting in parliament have not contested the previous general election with manifestos (that spoke of) new provinces. They should contest the upcoming election with a slogan of new provinces."
He remarked that the creation of new provinces by outgoing assemblies ahead of the general election created doubts about the intention of political parties sitting in parliament.
"There will be anarchy even if the parliament, being constitutionally empowered, created new provinces without seeking the will of the local people," he contended.
The counsel for the petitioner, Azhar Siddique, argued that neither the Constitution nor rules of business allowed the National Assembly Speaker to form a commission on creating new provinces.
He said the inclusion of Mianwali district in the proposed "Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab" province was against the will of the people.
Siddique argued the situation might worsen if the recommendations of the commission were not suspended.
The parliamentary panel has recommended that Bhawalpur Janoobi Punjab should be carved out of southern Punjab.
Former premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party is strongly opposing the move, saying the PPP wants to gain political mileage from the move.
Reacting to the High court's observations, a PPP parliamentarian, who did not want to be named, said: "Then who has this mandate? Will the honourable court tell us, if the representatives of the people can't do this, then who can ? the judiciary or a dictator?"