LAHORE: In a press conference on Sunday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi has called for creating a new province in South Punjab, “not for linguistic reasons but on administrative grounds to mitigate the miseries and sense of deprivation being faced by some 35 million people living in Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions.” The PTI leader said this following his meeting with the leadership of Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (JPSM). JPSM President Khusro Bakhtiar also addressed the press conference. The JPSM was formed out of the PML-N MNAs and MPAs from southern Punjab who quit the ruling party over the issue of creating a new province there. However, the disgruntled legislators’ resignation letters are yet to be accepted, and they are planning to submit a resolution in the Punjab Assembly on Monday (today) calling on the federal government to take measures for the creation of a new province. PTI Leader Mr Qureshi claimed that previous efforts to make a province in South Punjab had deliberately been derailed, and accused Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of “sowing the seeds of hatred” in South Punjab following the PM’s visit to the area. Qureshi also challenged the PML-N to hold a referendum on the issue of a province in south Punjab, to show what the real demand of the people was. In response to a question, the PTI leader also said that they were not afraid to set up a commission to sort out the issue of a new province. He also agreed to a question that no political party would oppose the move for a new province at the time of general elections and added that some would openly practice “hypocrisy” in this case. Qureshi claimed that it was becoming increasingly impossible to govern a province with a population of 110 million, and the state of public utilities such as schools, hospitals and sanitations highlighted this point. He accused the Shehbaz Sharif-led Government of Punjab of marginalizing southern Punjab and claimed that development funds allocated to the region were held back during every financial year. The former foreign minister also said that it was PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s wish to see a new province created in South Punjab. Furthermore, Khusro Bakhtiar said that the creation of a new province comprising south Punjab was essential for internal cohesion and for the strengthening of the federation. He also lauded the PTI’s stance in favour of a new province. Regarding the possibility of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan joining the PTI, Qureshi said that Chaudhry Nisar had direct access to Imran Khan and the two of them could come to a mutual decision. On the issue of caretaker prime minister, the PTI leader said that he had held a meeting with the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Khursheed Shah, while the latter had met the Prime Minister to discuss this issue. He further added that the discussions were on and no decision had yet been reached to finalise the name for caretaker prime minister.