The election scene has changed in South Punjab also known as Seraiki Belt. The entry of South Punjab Soba Mahaz is a political surprise. It can emerge as real and serious electoral challenge for the main stream political parties. This new front already has 10 electables capable of winning their seats. It can emerge as a game changer in the next general elections like the Baluchistan Awami Party.
It can become king maker after winning dozen or so seats of the national assembly. The lot depends on the decisions of the other big political guns of South Punjab. If more electables decided to join the new front then it can play an important role in a hung parliament. The electoral scene somehow started to become clear. It will be a four way contest in most of the constituencies of the South Punjab.
Six members national assembly and two members provincial assembly of PML-N decided to leave the party and to form their own front. They accused PML-N leadership for ignoring the South Punjab. They announced to launch the movement on one point agenda to create a south Punjab province. A PML-N law maker from Rahim Yar Khan, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar held a press conference to demand a new province "for the security of the future of the children of south Punjab."
During his press conference, Bakhtiar explained: "New provincial demarcations are the need of the time. We are not here to start a rift — time has made the need for new provinces very apparent. The demarcation of new provinces will ensure that funds allocated for Rajanpur are not given to Multan," he continued. "All we want is equality amongst the regions."
He made it clear that they have single point agenda: the creation of a new province in south Punjab. He announced to launch the movement to press the demand from the platform of South Punjab Province Front. He said that "The size of South Punjab is almost the same as Khyber Pakhtun khawa. We have 46 MNAs in the National Assembly at the moment and yet they gave us just one seat in Senate." He said that the South Punjab Front will take its message to the people through the media, through schools and through personal contact with voters.
"It is natural that all of us want that each district flourishes, has better law and order, and a better education system. For these things to be achieved, we need more provinces," he said. "Our goal is simple: when the new assemblies take oath, the legislation for a new province should be passed within the first session. If that does not happen, we will go to the Supreme Court," he stated to cries of assent.
“However, now we lack basic necessities and public sector investment. The ratio of employment in government services from south Punjab is way below what it should be compared with other parts of the province,” he said.
Rana Qasim Noon said no political party could win elections without their support in the region. “When miseries grow, disappointments also rise.”
I quoted them here to show that it seems that the question of South Punjab province is the key question for them. They are concerned about the lack of basic facilities and services likes of health, education sanitation, clean drinking water, and employment. One must appreciate the fact that they are concerned about their voters. They want to transform their constituencies and districts. But will they accept their past failures and apologies to their voters?
They themselves and their family members were part of the governments. They enjoyed ministries and other positions in the power corridors. They simply cannot shift the blame for the conditions exist in their constituencies on the others. The feudal mindset of these politicians is a big obstacle in the development of these areas. Who stops them not to build schools, hospitals and other facilities in their areas?
Nobody has a right to point finger at their intentions. They have every right to decide their own political future like any other politician of this country. They are respected members of influential families in their districts. But they should not point fingers at the others for the mistakes they themselves made. They have played their role to keep their areas from developing and backward.
The criticism made by some PML-N ministers against these lawmakers is unjustified and uncalled for. Three lawmakers Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Tahir Iqbal and Sardar Nasrullah Dareshak won the last election as independents after defeating the PML-N candidates in the general elections.
They joined the PML-N later when it formed the federal government. They did not contest the elections on PML-N ticket. The other three lawmakers did contest the election on PML-N ticket and won. The PML-N leadership knew before the elections that they are not loyal to the party and can change political loyalty with ease when it required.
But voters have every right to judge their performance on the basis of their track record. The voters have the right to look into their claims and actions. The people of their constituencies have every right to judge their performance and decide their future.
The Bahawalpur Soba Mahaz was formed before the 1970s elections. It won most of the seats from a former princely state of Bahawalpur. The people of this area stood firmly behind this demand but the leadership failed to materialize this dream.
This time the slogan is for the south Punjab province. The purpose of this slogan is to widen the political base in South Punjab. The PPP is also trying to use this slogan to make the gains and to regain the lost ground. South Punjab was used to be the stronghold of PPP. But the situation has changed completely since the 2013 general elections.
PTI was hoping to make big gains in South Punjab around the issue of South Punjab province. But the emergence of this front has changed the situation in South Punjab. The emergence of this front is a major blow to the mainstream political parties in South Punjab.
By Khalid Bhatti