South Punjab bloc bolsters PTI ahead of election

Ruling PML-N party faces worst setback as nearly 20 lawmakers from South Punjab join PTI

Islamabad: As many as 20 lawmakers from South Punjab, who recently parted ways with the ruling party, formally joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday strengthening the party’s position in the south Punjab region ahead of elections.

PTI chairman Imran Khan and Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (South Punjab Front) leader Khurso Bakhtiar announced the merger at a joint press conference after signing an agreement on Wednesday evening.

Welcoming the politicians from South Punjab in his party, Imran Khan said: “I welcome Khurso Bakhtiar and specially Mir Balakh Sher Mazari, who is a respected Pakistani politician.”

If elected, PTI has announced plans to set up a new province for the southern region in Punjab within 100 days of formation of the government.

“Federation is strengthened when its units are happy and this is what makes a nation strong and powerful,” Khan said, noting that the justification behind the creation of a separate province because it was administratively difficult to manage a province as large as Punjab.

Referring to the ruling party, Khan said “The power is centred in Lahore and there is growing sense of deprivation in South Punjab areas” especially because “a lot of parties [in the past] promised a South Punjab province and did not deliver.”

He added that after coming into power, PTI would also accelerate FATA’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Khurso Bakhtiar, JPSM leader, said “Our merger is based on single point that South Punjab province will be established by the PTI if it managed to form the government” in upcoming elections.

He said Imran Khan had become a hope for a naya (new) Pakistan.

Last month, in a major blow to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N), eight legislators had parted ways with the ruling party. They had also announced launching a mass movement to make south Punjab a separate province.

“Making South Punjab a separate province is a one-point agenda,” Bakhtiar said. “The poverty rate in South Punjab is over 51 per cent. I admire development in the provincial capital but I cannot forget the pain and sufferings of South Punjab where my ancestors are buried” he regretted.

The movement currently has at least 15 politicians. Headed by state minister for foreign affairs Khusro Bakhtiar it includes MNA Tariq Iqbal from Vehari; MNA Muhammad Qasim from Multan; MNA Basit Bukhari from Muzaffargarh; Sardar Dareshak, Saleem Ullah Chaudhry, Alam Dar Laleka and Syed Asghar Ali Shah.


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