PM`s statement on Seraiki province perturbs many
LAHORE, March 14: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s announcement of including Seraiki province’s demand in the PPP’s manifesto for the next general elections has perturbed those who are seeking revival of the Bahawalpur province as well as flag-bearers of the Punjab and Punjabi language.
Supporters of the Bahawalpur province see the prime minister’s statement as vague and fear that the former princely state will be made a part of the proposed federating unit.
Senator Mohammad Ali Durrani, who is chief of the Mutahidda Mohaz Bahawalpur, on Monday criticised Prime Minister Gilani for “making a mockery of the issue of Seraiki province” by not announcing its geographical boundaries and the timeframe for bringing it into being. Speaking at a press conference here, Senator Durrani said Gilani should come up with a clear vision on Seraiki province within next 48 hours giving its territorial boundaries. “If the premier tried to compromise the longstanding demand of revival of Bahawalpur province with Seraiki, he should be ready to face the public wrath and being tagged as ‘Yahya Khan Junior’,” Durrani added.
Yahya Khan, the former martial law administrator, had merged the princely state into Punjab in 1970 when the one unit consisting of all the areas, which now form Pakistan, was dissolved. The decision led to an unsuccessful resistance movement in the state that claimed many lives.
Senator Durrani threatened launching a million march led by Nawab Salahuddin Abbasi “to wipe out all conspiracies against the revival of Bahawalpur province” if his demand was not met with.
He said the government should have revived Bahawalpur province even prior to giving provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan as it was a legitimate demand and was based on the state commitments to the people and ruler of the Bahawalpur state.
Alleging that Gilani was exploiting PPP activists by giving them the lollypop of eliminating the PML-N from Sahiwal to Rahim Yar Khan, he reminded the prime minister of his commitment of revival of Bahawalpur province made at public gatherings held in the election campaign for NA-184 by-polls.
He warned that the demand for Seraiki province would spread to the parts of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the dialect was also spoken, and that creation of federating units on linguistic basis would give rise to such movements in other areas too to sheer disadvantage of the PPP.
Opposing auction of Bahawalpur lands as “a hunting ground for the ruling elite from Multan or Lahore”, Senator Durrani, who was federal information minister during General Musharraf’s regime, asked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take immediate notice of the matter as the people of Bahawalpur expected that the executive head of the province would provide justice to them through suspension and cancellation of such auctions in the underdeveloped area.
He called the sale of 39 state properties “a mega corruption scam the country had ever seen” as the actual cost of the lands, including seven rest houses, was Rs20 billion but these were sold for a paltry sum of Rs850 million and that too against the recommendations of the fisheries department.
Meanwhile, the Punjabi Language Movement has warned that the PPP will be “buried alive” in Punjab and Sindh if it ever raised the slogan of so-called Seraiki province.
Chaudhry Nazeer Kahut, who is convener of the movement, said that Gilani should look out for the Seraiki province outside Punjab as “Punjab is the motherland of Punjabi nation and belongs to Punjabis only”.
He appealed to President Asif Zardari to take notice of those “hijacking” the party and turning it into a “racist” Seraiki party and demanded sacking of Premier Gilani for masterminding creating an ethno-oriented civil conflict under an imperial agenda and indulging in “hate-based lingual and racial politics”.
Condemning the “forced” and “illegal” closure of Punjabi department at Bahauddin Zakaryia University, Multan, he demanded putting a ban in Punjab on Seraiki channels owned and operated by non-Seraikis.
Curtsey: DAWN.COM: PUBLISHED MAR 15, 2011