ISLAMABAD: Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Friday criticised PTI chief Imran Khan’s statement to make each division in the county a province and said this was a crude attempt to mend fences with the establishment who have since long advocated for it.

Addressing a lawyers’ convention in Sargodha, the PTI chief said in his opinion every division of the country should be turned into a province. He said the country had a total of 32 divisions, with Punjab having 10, Balochistan eight and Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seven each.

He said the country’s problems can be tackled effectively if every division was treated as a province.

In the wake of the statement, Mr Rabbani said: “Such a proposal shall sharpen the internal fault lines and destroy the federation. Provinces are created when there is a linguistic, ethnic and cultural affinity; not on the basis of administrative divisions,” he said.

“This will alter the federal structure of the Constitution of 1973. It is a attempt to revive one unit, not Ayubian style but Musharraf’s local government,” he said.

Mr Rabbani said the Ayubian and Mushrraf one unit style of government had been tried and failed. “This will create vertical and horizontal polarisation in the body polity and society,” he said.

“The natural resources of the provinces will be under the control of Islamabad – the federal government. Oil and gas, whose 50pc shares under the Constitution are with the provinces, will fall in into the hands of the federal government,” he said.

He said Article 160 of the Constitution, dealing with the NFC, will need to be amended. This is the main bone of contention. “It will be a rollback of the 18th Amendment,” he said.

Moreover, he said, the parliamentary form of government will cease to exist. “A quasi-presidential or presidential form of government will be introduced,” he said.

Mr Rabbani lashed out at Mr Khan and said sometimes he (Imran) talks about Pakistan being divided into three parts, what is the political agenda behind this? Is the establishment on board?

“Is the talk of PTI getting a two third majority in the next elections linked to giving it power to amend the Constitution, to relive the Ayubian era,” he asked.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2022

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