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The government of Imran Khan made many promises about the ‘Naya Pakistan’ and the first 100 days, were first claimed to be the gamechanger and then a beginning of the right direction. After the completion of the benchmark time by the man himself may have been impressed, many unimpressed and many more in the Southern Punjab wanting it to be better. Yes, Southern Punjab, one of the key points of PTI’s manifesto which singlehandedly won PTI the throne of Pakistan’s most populous region.
A leader of the highest caliber was needed, and in answer to that hailing from Dera Ghazi Khan and a member of the “Janoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz” Sardar Usman Khan Buzdar was enthroned as the Chief Executive for Punjab. The selection raised questions on his credibility and such. The most important, however, was the future of a new province; whether it would be implemented or abandoned.
Many of the residents of Punjab do not realize that the bifurcation of Punjab is no longer a need; it is a necessity when half of your population resides in the second largest province area wise. Keeping in view the importance of Punjab for the economy of Pakistan, there is a dire need for the smooth functioning of its administration as a whole.
Unfortunately, this has lacked as in recent years, with Lahore being the center of development of Punjab. No doubt, it cannot be ruled out that Lahore has been the capital where dignitaries, tourists have stayed. Though this came at a cost and the cities of Multan, Vehari, Lodhran and the current Chief’s Dera Ghazi Khan were neglected.
The people of Southern region paid for it dearly as they have been deprived of the basic necessities of life, women coming to Lahore for child delivery, aged coming for heart surgeries at PIC Lahore, and the jobless coming for odd jobs at the heart of the business. Not only is the delay hampering the efforts made to revive the failing economy, but it is also fueling the past long fire of ethnic discrimination.
History is full of evidence to prove how important a smooth administration. Historian Nigel Kelly concluded that the main reason for the decline of the Mughal Empire was the vast area coupled with an inefficient administration, as riots could not be prevented in due time as news reached late before the Emperor could take decisive steps.
Though not a riot is expected but the resentment by the people of Southern Punjab only increases the ethnic discrimination the state faces today even more severe than that of Punjabi- Baloch or Punjabi-Pathan. Imagine Punjab at war with itself, the mere thought of which is enough to send shivers down the spine. Efforts to subdue the discrimination have also been of no use.
Why did the governments think that appointing someone from the region for a ceremonial post of Governor, with the recent example of Rafiq Rajwana, is the cure when ironically the ceremonial dignitary shall be residing in Lahore?
A new province shall pave way for the Governor, Chief Minister, Chief Justice, Chief Secretary and the Inspector General of the police to be from the region it may subdue the resentment that the people from Southern Punjab face. It can be extrapolated that Southern Punjab is no longer a need, it is a necessity. For this reason, efforts should be made by the government to keep its promise and help to address Pakistan’s problems.