ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers from South Punjab, who recently parted ways with the ruling party, announced joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday, reinforcing party’s hold in South Punjab and animating chances of creation of separate South Punjab province.
The announcement was made by MNA from Rahim Yar Khan and leader of Janubi Punjab Suba Mahaaz (JPSM), Khusro Bakhtiar, who heads a group of national and provincial lawmakers.
Addressing a press conference alongside PTI chief Imran Khan, Khusro Bakhtiar said that Imran had promised to create a separate South Punjab province, which was the chief demand of JPSM. “On April 29, under the shadow of Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore, Imran Khan promised to make a separate South Punjab province.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Imran said, “You would remember that a lot of parties before me promised a South Punjab province but did not deliver.”
Explaining why he supports the demand, the PTI chairman said that he believes administering big units is very difficult. “A separate province is not enough and we will form a committee to solve South Punjab’s issues.”
“I have been to Switzerland and people are the happiest there because they have 25 cantons for a population which is less than Lahore. Each canton makes their own decisions after hearing the demands of their people,” Imran said while asserting that administering large provinces is difficult.
In an apparent reference to PML-N, he said, “Parties have been making promises for years but never fulfilling them. Some came to power thrice and still say if they get one more chance they will make a new Pakistan.”
People from cities across Punjab are moving and doing business in Lahore because the government only invests there, he said, adding that the government only invests in Lahore because it’s close to Raiwind.
The PTI chief acknowledged that there is a sense of deprivation in Punjab and other cities are suffering because of focus on investment in Lahore.
Stating that making a province is not easy, Imran highlighted the need for a separate province for South Punjab and the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). “We will also expedite FATA’s merger into KP,” he said.
Imran also stressed the need for a local government system. “Local government system is very important otherwise people will not get good governance,” he added.
The PTI chief further said, “A genuinely empowered local government system is the answer for the people of Pakistan,” adding, “there is a mess in Karachi because the local government there is not empowered.”
Responding to a question regarding ‘aliens’ that former premier Nawaz Sharif speaks of, Imran said, “Just look at the Asghar Khan case.”
“Look at the case and you will find out how poor Nawaz received Rs35 lakhs.” He added, “The case will also show you who the favourite is.”
The PTI chief further said that the party has no plans of joining hands with any political party, adding that his party will only enter into an alliance with Maulana Samiul Haq in KP.
Addressing the press conference, Khusro Bakhtiar said, “We presented our case for a separate province on April 9 and Imran Khan while presenting his 11-point agenda mentioned the creation of South Punjab province as his eighth point.”
“Since the PML-N pay heed to our demands for a separate province, who should we have gone to?” asked the JPSM leader. “PPP also raised the slogan for a separate South Punjab province but failed to fulfil its promise,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pir of Golra Sharif also announced his support for Imran Khan for the upcoming general elections.