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Posts Tagged ‘Pakhtoonistan’

The recent political environment in the country brought forth another issue that we have been ignoring for a long time. The issue of renaming NWFP to Pakhtunkhwa. Some very interesting debates took place on social networking sites and thus I had to write this blogpost to clear some misunderstandings and state some facts. Are dirty politics being played to arouse public sentiments, that may not be even legtimate?

Is it a genuine, legitimate concern of a people who fear their status and interests as equal citizens being seriously diluted in a newly-named province?

There is a lot of confusion being spread about the name. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has been proposing the most unreasonable (read:stupid) names as the inhabitants of NWFP are looking towards the top political leadership to finally name their province which represents their true identity, and why not? If Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan represent majority ethnic backgrounds of Punjabis, Sindis and Baluchis, why only Pashtuns have to bear this brunt of being politicized about the very name of their province

Some facts to have to be kept in mind, whilst making unreasonable suggestions:

  • • 1998 census showed that 73.9 per cent of NWFP’s population spoke Pashto
  • • The census figures for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are even more revealing in terms of the Pakhtun identity of the population. In 1998 an overwhelming 99.1 per cent declared Pashtu as their mother tongue
  • • In opposing the renaming of the province to Pakhtunkhwa, only two parties naming Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Muslim League (Q) are driven by the fear of losing votes in certain non-Pashto-speaking areas.
  • • If democratic norms are to be followed, then the wishes of the majority need to be respected in the renaming. The NWFP Assembly, reflecting the will of the people, a passed resolution in favour of Pakhtunkhwa by majority vote in November 1997
  • • Pakhtun are the 2nd largest ethnic group of Pakistan after Punjabis.
  • Most of them leaders of Hazara agitation have lost the last elections (of the nine leaders leading the protests, six lost the last elections, mostly to the PML-N). Is this movement politcally motivate? OF COURSE. WHO WONT WANT TO AROUSE PUBLIC SENTIMENTS ON THE BASIS OF ETHNICITY? Gohar Ayub ? (LOL, son of a dictator, who made one Unit, GA defended one unit all his life and now protests for a new province?)
  • 7 of the total 19 chief ministers this province has had since independence, have been from Hazara, from Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan to Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi. Remember any public agitation in Pashtu-speaking areas for why a “Hazarawal” was ruling a predominantly Pashtun province, 73.9 per cent of the population that is?
  • Names reflect identity and if names are not according to your ethnic background, you will be unfairly treated, lose your identity? On principle, people who find it hard to live with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa but happily lived with Abbottabad, which is named after Major Abbott (1849-1853), Haripur, which took its name from Ranjit Singh’s commander in chief Hari Singh Nalwa in 1822 or Mansehra, said to have been named after another Sikh commander, Man Singh.
  • But now the fire has been ignited, by these opportunist politicians, whats the solution?

REFERENDUM : The situation created in Hazara must be ignored and fuel must not be added to fire, a referendum must take place, which would again reflect what the majority represent, but would silence some guns who speak only to shine their politics!

Controversies would erupt if Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan were to be renamed today. The number of Saraiki-speakers in Punjab are 17.36 per cent of its population, compared to 75.23 Punjabis; in Sindh only 59.73 per cent of the population speaks Sindhi, while 21.05 per cent speaks Urdu; 6.99 per cent speak Punjabi and 4.19 per cent Pashto; in Balochistan, not more than 54.76 per cent of the population name Balochi as their mother tongue, compared to 29.64 per cent naming Pashto, 5.58 per cent Sindhi, 2.52 per cent Punjabi, and 2.42 per cent Saraiki. In fact, Pashto-speakers in NWFP and Fata form the largest group of a single ethnicity in any province in Pakistan. Based on the precedents set in naming other provinces, what names should be given to NWFP?

Ignoring the aspirations of the Pakhtun people (15.42 per cent), who are the second-largest ethnic group in Pakistan after Punjabis (44.15 per cent) and refusing to provide them an identity in the renaming of their province, would be both undemocratic and unjust. Especially if it comes from a party whose stronghold is Punjab and has been labelled to Punjabize all of Pakistan.

The earliest available historical proof is Akhund Darweza’s (d. 1638) Makhzanul Islam (written between 1603 and 1612). A verse in this book reads: “Pakhtunkhwa pa misal shpa wa, dai deewa wo pa andher ke” (Translation: Pakhtunkhwa was like a night and he [Pir Baba Syed Ali Termezi] was like a candle).

Dr. A. H. Dani, a well known historian and archaeologist, presently the Director of the Islamabad-based Center for the Study of the Civilizations of Central Asia, told Dawn that Pakhtunistan is a political name but Pakhtunkhwa is not. “Culturally there is no doubt that the land was called Pakhtunkhwa in Pushtu literature since 15th century (we have a trace of literature since that time only). The term has been applied for both tribal and settled areas, he added.

Similarly, the often-quoted two lines of a poem by Ahmad Shah Abdali (1723-1773), the Founding Father of Afghan state, clearly mention Pakhtunkhwa as the land of the Pashtoons or Pakhtuns. Here are the lines:

Da Dehli takht herawoma che rayad kram Zama da khpale Pakhtunkhwa da ghro saroona
(Translation: I forget my Dehli throne when I recall the mountain peaks of my own Pakhtunkhwa).

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