Nothing seems to excite the electorate more than the demand for a new province – or at least that is what political parties believe. Trumping education, sanitation, law enforcement, health and the economy, creating “new administrative units” seems to the most important legislative agenda for many lawmakers. Over the years these demands have waned and waxed, curiously in tune with the coming of the general elections, without ever being successful in producing a province.

Even more interestingly, these demands seem to lose their fervor as soon as the politicians responsible find their way into the halls of power. A cynical man might conclude that these campaigns are nothing more than calculated vote bank pleasers, but given the increasing mainstreaming of such demands, it would do well to pay each of them individual attention.

The South Punjab saga is old and well documented; currently the proposal is languishing in standing committees and think tanks after making a strong resurgence during this general election. Someone slipped in the Bahawalpur Province precondition in the proposal to poison the chalice further. Now another, equally unlikely, contender appears on the scene – South Sindh. 

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) recently held a public meeting in Karachi in which its convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced that his party would launch a struggle for an ‘urban Sindh’ province to end ‘injustices’ meted out to the people of urban areas. Later, the party named the proposed province as the ‘southern Sindh’ province. While the demand for a new province carved out of Karachi’s urban districts has existed in some form or another for quite a while, it has never been a serious prospect. More often than not it was used as a threat to counterweigh the politics of the metropolis, on ethnic lines no less.

The new demand drops the ethnic element and claims that the Pakistan People’s Party during its around 11-year rule in Sindh had neglected the urban areas to the extent that urban population feels deprived and is ready to support the demand for a new province. As far as evidence for these injustices go, or how the separation ill address them, the MQM-P has not provided anything.

We cannot deny the problems that ail urban Karachi, but no one has ever demonstrated that they stem from being part of the larger Sindh province. Given the fact that the PTI and the Prime Minister have categorically rejected the possibility of the province show that even fellow coalition members do not share the MQM’s views – let alone the public.