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Monday, April 09, 2007

Pushtoon Nationalism or Provincialism

Pushtoon Nationalism or Provincialism.
Since the days Pakistan came into being; the very first crises related to provincial autonomy hit the headlines, rather than asking to hold election for a constitutional assembly in order to frame a constitution for the new state or demanded a truly representative government in the centre. Bengalis were not satisfied with the level of provincial autonomy by then and they demanded to bring back the March 1940 Lahore resolution into life, which recommended only four subjects to the centre while leaving the rest for the federating units to play with. Answering this question since 1950s, every trick was applied by the successive governments, ranging from parity formula of our lone Field Marshal to the 5 points compromise with Sheikh Mujeeb, purely to deny this legitimate demand from the federating units. Playing around and not taking this issue seriously resulted in the burying of two nations theory, the very raison d’être of this new country, for ever and a country conceived by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali rather than Mohammad Ali Jinnah was allowed to pop up on the political map of the world after 1971 debacle.

We should have learnt the lesson to grant maximum autonomy to the federating units, though after paying a high cost, but unfortunately, nothing like that happened afterward. Bhutto government was given free hand to prepare constitution after 1971 separation of our eastern wing, without asking him to hold fresh election as the earlier were held wherein Awami League won the majority seats and constitutionally Bhutto government had no standing since these were held when East Pakistan was part of the country. Despite many reservations from Pushtoon, Baloch and Sindhi parliamentarians a new constitution was drafted and passed by the parliament after receiving the assurance of federal government to transfer the majority of departments to the federating units within 20 years time. What happened to the constitution and the country is an open secrete. Making one whole clause of Article 6 in the Constitution for punishing the unlawful taker over, the country experienced the two longest marshal law regimes of its history, since the unanimously approved constitution of 1973 came into life.

Pushtoon national movement in the first half of the 20th century remained one of the prominent political struggles against the British government in India. Unfortunately because of few political mistakes committed by Pushtoon leadership, none of the objectives could be achieved and the sum of the decades long struggle, offering thousands of martyrs and prisoners, is the cursing of our historical and national heroes, our cultural, political and economical subjugation if not outright enslavement and the exodus of million of Pushtoon in search of jobs and better life outside of our own mother land. Under the forced referendum from British government when the elected government in NWFP refused to take part, our province became par of the newly created state of Pakistan and Bacha Khan went to the new parliament and took oath of allegiance in February 1948.

Since Bacha Khan’s surrender to the new government in Karachi and his oath of loyalties, his past alliance with Indian national Congress remained enough reason to keep him inside the bars for many years by various Pakistani governments. Ironically the Pushtoon political struggle before 1947 was not clear what they were looking for neither later in the 2nd half of the 20th century the same syndrome of confusion remained the major cause of their total perplexity and failure. Bacha Khan and his colleagues always talked about reforms in Pushtoon society but never talked about the political emancipation of Pushtoon masses and neither went for an appropriate course, resulting in the total chaos at the time of the departure of British government in India and later they had to be content with the change of NWFP to Pushtoonkhwa plus the control of natural resources by the provincial government.
Amazingly the long drawn political history of Pushtoon national movement and today the heirs of the Bacha Khan political legacy are demanding provincial autonomy for NWFP only. Provincial autonomy, however, does not answer the Pushtoon national question, as we have many issues, the said demand can not cover. Unlike Baloch, Sindhi, Seraiki and Punjabi, Pushtoon are administratively divided in four separate but contiguously geographical regions. NWFP is the largest part of these pieces, whereas Pushtoon area of northern Balochistan forms the 2nd larger piece. FATA, with seven tribal agencies the 3rd part, followed by the districts of Mianwali and Attock, which previously remained parts of the NWFP but during the one unit dissolution process unjustifiably given to the Punjab province.

Secondly a question is still to be decided about Pushtoon identify within the federation of Pakistan. Balochistan was allowed to replace o with u for correct spelling of their title, while Sindh was allowed to add h at the end of their name for the same purposes, however, whenever Pushtoon ask for changing their name to either Pushtoonkhwa, Pushtoonistan or Afghania, a range of alternatives are put forward to deny their legitimate demand. In this respect few of the options and reasons are very interesting. One, we are told that the other two provinces have their identity because of the presence of prominent rivers on their land, such as Sindh because of Indus (local name for Indus) and Punjab - the land of five rivers, thus a suitable name would be Abbaseen (Pashto name for Indus). Another option is Khyber, the name of historical valley and entrance point for invaders towards the Indian sub continent. Some anti Pushtoon section totally reject any thing based on Pushtoon national identity and suggest something religious or closer to the Pakistani identity. These elements also cite that Pushtoon are no majority hence have no claim for their identity.

Let me quote the recently held census of 1998 in the following table which clearly rejects the stand of anti Pushtoon elements and shows that who is how much in their respective provinces. Pushtoon forms 73.90 of the total population in NWFP and that too without the adjacent tribal areas, wherein 99.10 are Pushtoon. In this calculation unfortunately, Jadoon, Tareen, Mashwani and few other minor Pushtoon tribes are not included who are Pushtoon but can not speak Pashto. The 20.44% non Pashto population also include the speakers of 27 different languages in Frontier Province according to the recently held conference sponsored by the former NWFP Chief Secretary and advocated by Dr. Zahoor Ahmad Awan of Hindko Adabi board. They did their best to mislead the opinion makers and belittle Pashto and Pushtoon but utterly failed in their nefarious planning. In Sindh this ratio is less than 60% and in Balochistan less than 55% but still both these provinces are named Sindh and Balochistan. In Balochistan there is no prominent river, but their identity is based on their ethnicity just like Pushtoon, who does not need anything else to recognize themselves but their own national tag of Pushtoon. Click the link to access data.
Area -Punjabi-Pashto -Sindhi-Seraiki-Urdu- Balochi-Others
Punjab province:
Punjabi :75.23
Pashtoon :1.16
Sindhi : 0.13
Seraiki :17.36
Urdu : 4.51
Balochi : 0.66
Others :0.95

Sindh Province:
Punjabi :6.99
Pashtoon: 4.19
Sindhi: 59.73
urdu: 21.01
balochi :2.11
Others: 4.97
3-Pukhtoonkhwa(NWFP )
punjabi: 0.97
Pashto : 73.90
seraiki: 3.86

Sindhi: 5.58

sindhi :0.01

Total Pakistan

Obviously Pushtoon needs to demand National autonomy rather than provincial autonomy since we need to bring together the divided pieces together and give it their legitimate identity inside the federation of Pakistan. For this purpose it is essential to search for peaceful and democratic means and we have to keeping educating our people about their national rights. One such anomaly noticed belong to the Pushtoon representation in the Parliament. According to the following mentioned table wherein data is extracted from the recently held census of 1998 Pushtoon are given less representation that their due share of 15.42% against the existing ratio of 13.31%, depriving them of their 2.11% representation. This 2.11 in terms of National Assembly representation is more than eight or nine seats. On the other hand Punjab 11.93%, Sindh 9.09% and Balochistan 1.43 are enjoying more than their due right.

Population and Representation in the National Assembly

Province -Population -NA Seats ---%ag/seat ---NA % -Language -Diff
Punjab---- 73.621 -----148-------0.497-----56.08----44.15----11.93

Total -------131.274 ----270 ------100 ---77.24

Over population is liability in the modern financial system. That is why population control concept as well as an appropriate equilibrium between the economic and population growth is always one of the prime objectives for economic wizards. Here in Pakistan more population means more resources from the divisible pool. Criteria for NFC must be changed and the resources allocation must be based on the needs of the areas. Most importantly nations should be handed over control over their natural resources and they must be allowed to plan for their development separately. It is because provinces or federating unit decided to create Pakistan and not the other way round.

Lastly supporting Pushtoonkhwa, Pushtoonistan or Afghania to replace the infamous NWFP, lets see what Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, a Punjabi student in London writes on Page 2 in his booklet Now or Never (January 28, 1933) “at this solemn hours in the history, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our 30 million Muslim brethren, who live in PAKSTAN – by which we mean the five northern units of India viz,: Punjab, North West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan – for your sympathy and support in our grim and fateful struggle against political crucifixion and complete annihilation”. Click the following link to reach the document.

Looking to the above statement he knew very well the future of his proposed state and perhaps he deliberately kept the northern and central Muslim parts (Hyderabad, Bengal, UP, Slihat etc) of India out of his scheme, which formed two third of total muslim population by then. Secondly he used Afghan province for NWFP as his suggested replacement. After Pakistan established he was flatly denied Pakistani Passport by the Muslim leadership governing Pakistan from those excluded areas of his Pakistan. His dreamed Pakistan came into being after 1971, but he was already dead in1951. Let’s replace NWFP with Afghania to commemorate our great Punjabi thinker and visionary which covers most, if not all cultural, historical, linguistic and social aspects of this region.

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