Total Pageviews

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Renaming NWFP Dawn Editorial
Wednesday, 09 Sep, 2009
By digging in his heels on Pakhtunkhwa, however, Mr Sharif is unnecessarily reinforcing old perceptions and needlessly alienating a province. —AP/File Photo Provinces
NWFP wants 80pc resources for provinces REIGNITING what lately had appeared to be a settled issue, Nawaz Sharif has demanded that a referendum be held in the NWFP on the renaming of the province. Mr Sharif’s demand flies in the face of an overwhelming majority in the NWFP Assembly, which has passed a resolution endorsing the name Pakhtunkhwa. Moreover, while a constitutional amendment has yet to be passed, the nomenclature has already been amended at the centre informally with everyone from the president to the prime minister to federal ministers referring to the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa.

Overlooking the near unanimity, Mr Sharif has instead apparently opted to focus on shoring up support for his own party in the Hazara region, a traditional PML-N stronghold that is Hindko-speaking. But even on that count, the PML-N leader may be misguided. The 1998 census shows that Mansehra is evenly divided between Pushto- and Hindko-speakers, while in other districts such as Haripur and Abbottabad a significant Pushto-speaking population too now resides. Moreover, there is the fact that in the NWFP generally Pushto is the mother tongue of three-fourths of the population.

Why then should the people of the NWFP continue to live under a colonial-era name? Names matter to identity, something we have seen very recently with Gilgit-Baltistan, an appellation that has been hailed by the people of the erstwhile Northern Areas. Looking at the other federating units – Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh – there is also the question of why the NWFP alone should have a name with no regional identity.

The problem, then, isn’t about a referendum – Pakhtunkhwa is supported by the majority and the people’s elected representatives – but why Mr Sharif would want to impede the process of changing the name of the NWFP at all. Since his return to the country, Mr Sharif and his party have done a fair bit to challenge the perception that the PML-N is a one-province party, most noticeably by reaching out to Balochistan and sounding a conciliatory note to the smaller provinces during the ongoing NFC discussions. By digging in his heels on Pakhtunkhwa, however, Mr Sharif is unnecessarily reinforcing old perceptions and needlessly alienating a province.

1 comment:

Sikander Hayat said...

Pakistan government need to talk to the real Baloch stakeholders and come up with a formula which can satisfy the just demands of the Baloch people.

http://real-politique.blogspot.com