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Event Title: Senator Syed Ali Zafar, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice presiding over a Meeting of the Committee at Parliament House Islamabad

Event Date: 2023-07-11

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice under the Chairmanship of Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar was held today here at Parliament House for discussing the matter of creation of two provinces of South Punjab and Hazara Region.

The Chairman of the Committee noted that there were sufficient and important justification for creation of provinces. Chairman Zafar pointed out that there was poor governance and lack of economic development in areas that were further from Lahore and Peshawar respectively and this distance was also creating daily communication problems for the people. The creation of provinces would also address the economic and political marginalization of poor minorities which are in the provinces while at the same time as the number of smaller provinces increases, the federation would become stronger.

Chairman Zafar however pointed out that while considering the creation of new provinces, it must not be based on ethnic and linguistic grounds only but should be on administrative lines and and population related. He said that while considering all this, the Committee must also keep in mind whether Pakistan is able to carve out new provinces with current resources in todays tight economic conditions and, secondly, whether the provinces being proposed would be economically viable units.

Chairman Zafar also pointed out that as a result of the creation of new provinces, there will be separate Cabinet, Governors, Assemblies, High Courts and Courts, Ministries and Departments, the quota of the new provinces in the Federal Service would have to be catered for and separate new provincial cadres would have to be created. This would also have an impact on the Senate because, for example, if Punjab is divided into two provinces, it will increase Punjab’s strength in the Senate which may not be acceptable to other provinces. The Committee will also have to satisfy itself how the resources will be divided, how will NFC award will be reconsidered and matters relating to canals’ distribution would also arise, he pointed out.

The Committee extensively debated the matter and came to the conclusion that the provinces need to be created in Pakistan not just in Punjab and KPK but in other provinces as well. However for this, all the questions raised by the Chairman need to be answered and all stakeholders, including party leadership of all political parties, have to be heard and some consensus developed. It was felt that with two of the Assemblies namely Punjab and KPK having been dissolved, and the National Assembly is going to be dissolved in July-August, 2023, this would not be the appropriate time when all stakeholders can be brought on board. Nonetheless it was felt that the Committee must begin its work on the matter by calling the party heads/representatives and all stakeholders for their viewpoints. The Senators were extremely unhappy with the Law Ministry for failing to provide the reports from the various ministries concerned regarding the creation of new provinces and the Chairman directed the Ministry to file the report within two-weeks failing which action may have to be taken against the concerned.

The Committee then took up the matter of the Kishanganga Hydro Power Project dispute. Since the law Ministry has not prepared the reply, the Ministry requested the commitee that the Attorney General Office may also be called for an in-camera briefing. The Committee agreed to give the time to the Ministry and decided that a separate session will be held for this purpose alone.

The Committee also summoned the Assistant Commissioner, Public Prosecutor Punjab and the Police Department to give an in-person briefing of the attack by lawyers on the Assistant Commissioner Pir Mahal in Punjab. The commitee wanted to know what progress has been made on the case and whether the Assostant commissioner is satisfied with the prosecution and investigation so far.

On the question of allotment of the members of NIRC the committee noted with approval that the members had been promptly appointed when the commitee took up the matter and required the law ministry to submit a report on the merits of the appointments and whether the die process in appointments was followed.