New provinces’ issue crops up again; PAs’ opinion sought

ISLAMABAD: The dead issue of creation of new federating units received a lease of life on Thursday when a parliamentary panel sought the opinion of provincial assemblies on whether redrawing the boundaries of provinces should be subjected to the will of districts affected by this arrangement.
The standing committee of Law, Justice & Human Rights of Upper House deliberated upon this issue when it took up Constitution (Amendment) Bill moved by Senator Mohsin Khan Laghari. Senator Kazim Khan from Pakistan Peoples Party, who heads the senate body was not interested at all to discuss the bill saying that it is direct intervention in the domain of the provincial assemblies.
Kazim, however agreed to seek the provincial government’s views on this subject before discussing the issue in the committee. Raja Zafarul Haq, Leader of the House in Senate said that issue is very sensitive as provinces are very sensitized about it and should be tackled carefully. The amendment proposed by Senator Mohsin Laghari in article 1 after clause (3) states “Parliament may by law, carve out or create new provinces from existing limits of an existing province or redraw the boundaries of more than one provinces to create a new province subject to the will of majority of district/tehsil being affected and the provision of article 239 (4) regarding approval of respective provincial assembly”.
Laghari contended that constitution amendment is designed to empower the parliament to create new provinces and noted that it is necessary in the backdrop of commitments of most political parties made in their manifesto for election 2013 to create new provinces. Special Secretary Law observed that carving out new federating units through law would be a dangerous omen as this right solely rests with provincial assemblies to alter their boundaries.
Mohsin, however contended that the will of the people of districts to be affected from redrawing of boundaries in a particular province should be first ascertained and recalled the shutter down in Minawali district in the previous regime when the district was shown in the proposed Southern Punjab province as PPP-led government got adopted a resolution from the assembly about it. About a private member bill of Senator Farhatullah Babar regarding Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace” Bill, committee decided to refer the matter to Law Division to seek its opinion about it.
Special Secretary Law, however said that already a law exists covering all sort of sexual harassment to women. Senator Babar pointed out that academic institutions are not covered by referring to recent and previous incidents of girls students harassment at the hands of staff of administration at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. Special Secretary Law suggested that rather to incorporate in existing law, a new one should be formulated to deal with such matters and also agreed with the demand of Babar that Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment should be empowered with the suo moto powers to tackle such complaints.
The committee also referred the Anti-Rape Law Bill, moved by Senator Sughra Imam to Law Division for its legal opinion. Sughra pointed out that existing laws have so much so lacunas that in last five years, no a single person was convicted for committing the rape offence. She said that amendment bill is aimed at removing the bottlenecks in Pakistan Penal Code, CPRc and evidence act that le the culprits go scot-free.

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