Total Pageviews

Monday, June 16, 2008

Concerns of Pashtuns in Balochistan

Concerns of Pashtuns in Balochistan
By Arif Tabassum, Dawn, June 14, 2008

THE proposed constitutional package may not be acceptable to all but no one can ignore its immediate beneficiaries. One point, which is particularly related to Pashtuns, is about the renaming of the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa. Since independence, the majority of Pashtuns politically struggled for their national identity, being one of the main nationalities of Pakistan. Now, that moment has arrived when one hopes to translate this dream into reality.

However, some anti-Pakhtunkhwa elements have also become active to confuse the situation. ANP’s decision to take part in the elections and its alliance with the PPP was based on a strategy for long-term benefits, Pakhtunkhwa being the most important one. The article concerned in the proposed constitutional package meets the decades-old demand of Pashtuns, but there is a feeling that because of it Pashtuns of Balochistan may suffer its adverse effects. In fact, since the end of One Unit in early 1970s, the Pashtun districts of Balochistan have remained part of that province. This decision of the then Pashtun leadership remains questionable till today. Having their own regional and geographic spheres, Pashtuns of Balochistan are deprived of their political identity.

The Pashtun nationalist parties in Balochistan hold different political stances over the question of identity. Some of them want to merge with the Pakhtunkhwa (the NWFP); others demand a separate province while some progressives also see the dream of becoming part of Afghanistan. All these three political approaches have their own implications; by becoming part of Pakhtunkhwa, the Pashtuns of this province will not be able to compete with Pashtuns of Pakhtunkhwa, because the education system in Balochistan is neither of good quality nor have most parts of the region easy access to basic education.

Thus, there is a fear that this area will remain out of the competitive environment and will lag behind for more decades. Having its own identity as Southern Pakhtunkhwa, it will not be treated as a true federating unit because currently its contribution to GDP is insignificant. Thus it will get little share from the federal allocations. By becoming part of Afghanistan it will not be stabile enough to develop. All three options for seeking political identity are not viable and therefore of little consequence. A unified strategy through an alliance such as Pakhtunkhwa National Democratic Alliance (PNDA) can be considered and worked out.

However, the proposed constitutional amendment about renaming of the NWFP has received unprecedented appreciation from the progressive community of the country. All oppressed nationalities the country have described it as a revolutionary step, which will strengthen the federation. They also hope to be awarded with a similar status for protection of their rights. Baloch nationalists also appreciated it but a section of them has given the impression that since the Pashtuns are going to get their political identity as Pakhtunkhwa, the Pashtuns of Balochistan should now give up the agenda of seeking their identity and should rethink about calling a part of Balochistan as Southern Pakhtunkhwa. It means the Pashtuns of Balochistan should now think in terms of accepting the status quo and living within the current boundaries.

If we analyse the geographical status of Pashtuns in Pakistan, we come to the conclusion that they have been deliberately scattered into different territories so that they could not get united, perhaps because they are deemed a threat to the integrity of Pakistan. The Durand Line is the basic cause of this division. The majority of Pashtuns live in Pakhtunkhwa (the NWFP) while a major part of their population lives in Fata and the rest are compelled to live in Balochistan. This division raises some serious questions. Among the Pashtuns of Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwa, there are no direct communications links, no direct train and there are no direct flights between Peshawar and Quetta.

Under the given circumstances, though the Pashtuns of Balochistan are very much excited about the renaming of the NWFP, yet there are feelings of being left out of the game. Such feelings grew intense when the reconciliation process started. None of the actions or statements relating to reconciliation in Balochistan talks about Pashtuns. The emphasis of this reconciliation is only on the issues, which excludes Pashtuns as an ethnic group in the province.

Same was done in Musharraf regime, though none of the mega projects was started in Pashtun districts. The present reconciliation process repeats the same mistakes of excluding Pashtuns. The overall development scenario of Pashtun districts presents a sad picture. Politically Pashtuns have neither identity nor authority for the development of their areas. About 70 per cent of them are deprived of the basic education and health facilities. There are no post-graduate colleges or universities in the areas. The higher educational institutions in Quetta are not affordable for the poor families. The religious extremism is getting its roots deeper here.

The quality communication sources among these areas and their links to other provinces are absent. The only one economic source, agriculture, is facing serious threat, because the underground water sources are becoming dry rapidly.

All these factors have no place either in the reconciliation exercise or in the long-term development planning. Then, the suggestion to drop the question of identity because of the renaming of the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa is seriously affecting the remaining political, economic and social forbearance of Pashtuns. They, however, support other matters in the reconciliation process. They have shown serious concerns over the killing of Nawab Bugti, disappearances, and control on provincial resources but it does not mean that the Pashtuns’ issues be ignored.

Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy (AIRRA) is seen as the ever first think-tank of Pashtuns. It is expected that it will work on the issues of extremism, exclusion and segregation of Pashtuns. One hopes such think tanks will lay emphasis on Balochistan a bit more to study its complex issues. The political identity of Pakhtunkhwa should not be seen as a factor to underestimate the fate of Pashtuns in Balochistan. Through political efforts and academic studies the issues of Pashtuns in Balochistan must be highlighted in its true context.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Haji Adeel in Senate: by Rahimullah Yousafzai

Haji Adeel in Senate: by Rahimullah Yousafzai


Senate to be a lively place with arrival of ANP’s Adeel

Long-time campaigner for provincial rights becomes senator

The News, June 2,2008
by Rahim Ullah Yousafzai

True to his reputation, ANP leader Haji Mohammad Adeel on his first day in the Senate after his recent election generated controversy by forcefully raising the issue of renaming of NWFP and insisting on calling his native province Pakhtunkhwa.

Adeel is no stranger to controversy. He thrives in controversial situations and never gives ground to his opponents. The Senate would be witnessing fireworks now that he has become a Senator.

The ANP made a good choice by nominating the 66-year-old Adeel as its candidate for the Senate seat vacated by party President Asfandyar Wali Khan following his election as MNA. He is knowledgeable about issues concerning the country and his province. Being familiar with business and economic matters, he would be able to highlight the rights of NWFP and link them with the larger issue of provincial autonomy.

In fact, Adeel came armed with figures and in his maiden speech as Senator he deftly put across the case of his province by pointing out that it produced 70 per cent of the timber, 75 per cent hydel power, 70 per cent maize and 80 per cent tobacco in the country and yet it wasn’t getting its due in terms of its share in federal resources. That is what a Senator should be doing and few can do this better than Adeel.

However, Adeel would be serving as Senator for a short period of seven months only. He was elected to complete the remaining term of Asfandyar Wali. It is possible that his party would nominate him as its candidate for a longer term when Senate elections are held in March next year. He certainly deserves a full six-year term as Senator.

Adeel, who belongs to a prominent family of Peshawar, has proved his utility to the ANP by defending and highlighting its policies in the media. He makes frequent appearances on television channels and is readily available to reporters seeking comments on a variety of issues. He knows how to cultivate the media and put across his and his party’s views. Rather he is known as someone who likes publicity. Forever in the news, he wants more of the same.

Fluent in a number of languages, Adeel has also improved his Pushto. Sometimes, party workers insist that he should speak at public meetings in Pushto. Some do this to tease him but he takes all this in his stride. Witty and vocal, Adeel is ready to tackle any unpleasant situation.

Adeel’s father Hakim Abdul Jaleel Nadvi was a freedom fighter. He was a leader of the Congress party and the Khudai Khidmatgar movement of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, or Bacha Khan as he is commonly known. The late Jaleel Nadvi led the procession in Peshawar’s Bazaar-i-Kalan that was fired at by the British colonial forces. He was also in the procession in Qissa Khwani Bazaar that was attacked by the British Raj soldiers. For three years from 1918 onwards, he was imprisoned in the Andaman island prison, known as Kala Pani. An overhead bridge near Bazaar-i-Kalan is now named after him.

Adeel’s forefathers had migrated from Afghanistan during Mahmud Ghaznavi’s rule and settled in Chamkani village outside Peshawar. In 1825 it shifted to Peshawar and gradually rose to prominence in political and business circles.

Thrice in 1990, 1993 and 1997, Adeel was elected MPA from Peshawar. However, he lost election in 1988 and 2002. He served as provincial finance minister and as deputy speaker of the NWFP Assembly.

Adeel studied at the historic Edwardes College, Peshawar. He has had a full life, spending time in jail including a stint in the Multan prison, taking part in literary and cultural activities and devoting all his time and energy to nationalist politics from the platform of ANP and its predecessor parties such as NAP and NDP. It isn’t commonly known that Adeel is a painter. He remained associated with Abasin Arts Council for years.

However, it is politics that consumes most of his time. For 21 years he was president of ANP Peshawar. Another 11 years he served as central information secretary of the party. For four years he was vice-president of the party. He has also served as its additional general secretary. Presently, Adeel is ANP’s senior vice-president. When Asfandyar Wali was on an overseas visit recently, he officiated as the acting central president of ANP. Adeel deserved the honour as he had risen from the party ranks and remained loyal to its cause.