Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hazara province out of question, says Bilour

LAHORE: The creation of a separate province for the people of Hazara is out of question, a private TV channel quoted NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour as saying on Wednesday. Talking to journalists in Peshawar, the minister questioned how the Awami National Party (ANP) could support a resolution, demanding a separate Hazara province. “It took us six decades to rename the NWFP Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. The supporters of a Hazara province should struggle for 50 years before demanding a separate province,” he said.Bilour said the ANP-led provincial government would not review the proposed name for the NWFP.

ANP celebrates K-P approval from Senate

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party’s ministers and workers started celebrations on Thursday after the Senate approved to rename NWFP to Pakhtoonkhwa.During celebrations in Peshawar some party activists also fired aerial shots and danced to the beat of drums. The women activists also celebrated the renaming of the province and distributed sweets among the activists. Talking to DawnNews, NWFP Minister for Sports and Culture Aqil Shah said Pakhtoons have finally got an identity after nearly a century long struggle. He said the renaming of the province was a genuine demand of ANP which was finally fulfilled.Quite the contrast to the real situation, Shah said ANP central leadership had asked all the party activists not to celebrate the new name because of violence and killing of seven people in Hazara division.—

NWFP officially renamed as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Pakistan's North West Frontier Province was officially renamed as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday.
After getting the National Assembly's nod of approval earlier this week, the bill has now been passed by the Senate. Eighty senators voted in favour of the new name, while just 12 opposed it. An amendment which had been moved by the PML-Q against the province's renaming was rejected by the upper house.
Former NWFP interior minister Shahzada Gustasap said that the change in naming the province was already expected in the Senate. He thanked those who had voted against renaming the NWFP and said that the people of Hazara would continue to struggle for a separate province.The session had started off on a turbulent note with PML-Q and PML-N senators staging a walk out over remarks that had been made by ANP Senator Haji Adeel in a talk show.The Senator, Haji Adeel, had said that some PML leaders used to ‘eat pork and drink whiskey’ in the past but was quick to clarify that his statement was not directed at Quaid-e-Azam.
Mr Bokhari, who represents Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Senate, noted that the present bill had come when Pakistan had an elected president who did not interfere with the parliamentary committee or parliament while the previous major Eighth and Seventeenth amendments were made under duress to distort the Constitution as desired by then military rulers.
“The Eighteenth Amendment has thrown out that dirt and now you have a clean constitution …,” he said about the bill which also aimed to enhance provincial autonomy, repeal the 17th Amendment of 2003 that legitimised the decrees of then military president Pervez Musharraf, and provide for a parliamentary oversight of the appointment of judges of the superior courts.

Pakistan's Senate passes constitutional reforms

Pakistan's upper house Senate passed on Thursday constitutional amendments stripping unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari of his main powers and handing them to the prime minister and parliament.The reforms, which the lower house of parliament approved unanimously last week, should go some way to disarming Zardari's many critics and contribute to political stability.Zardari has backed the reforms though some of his opponents doubted he would let them pass. He must now sign them into law."Today, democracy has won," Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told the Senate soon after the vote."It's the first time the president, prime minister and both houses of parliament are on one page," said Gilani, a top official in the president's ruling party.The charter changes, crafted by parliamentarians from both ruling and opposition parties, will turn Zardari into a ceremonial head of state.The main powers he is giving up are the power to dissolve parliament and appoint top armed forces chiefs and judges.But analysts say Zardari will retain much influence as leader of the ruling party.These presidential powers were introduced by military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s to keep control of the government.
Presidents used the power to dissolve the National Assembly four times in the late 1980s and 1990s to oust elected civilian governments.
Though Zardari and the newly empowered Gilani are party allies, rumors of tension between them have occasionally surfaced since their government took power in 2008.
"The fact that Zardari is chief of the ruling party and Gilani is the country's constitutional chief executive does create the potential for struggle between the two," said Kamran Bokhari of intelligence firm STRATFOR.But for now the changes are likely to promote stability, although the president could still face legal challenges to his eligibility to have stood for office in 2008 because of old graft charges he says were politically motivated.The reforms come after a year of security force campaigns against al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in the northwest, in which the military has made significant gains.While the militants have shown they can launch attacks in even the most tightly guarded areas, the military successes have largely dispelled fears Pakistan was drifting into chaos.Optimism has been reflected in Pakistan's stock market, where the main index is at levels not seen since 2008, supported by foreign buying. The reforms could also bring the possibility of fresh challenges to the government from main opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.Sharif, who served two terms as prime minister in the 1990s, had long been demanding the amendments which include the rescinding of a ban on a third term as prime minister.That clears the way back to office for Sharif, who polls show is the country's most popular politician. But if he doesn't want to wait until the next election in 2013, he might try to engineer early polls.Zardari's Pakistan People's Party-led coalition holds a comfortable majority in parliament, so the only way for Sharif to bring the election forward would be to launch protests in the hope of forcing a dissolution of parliament.But analysts do not expect him to do that. Chaos in the streets could invite military intervention and the end of democratic rule, which would defeat Sharif's purpose.Under the reforms, the North West Frontier Province will be renamed Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa to reflect the majority community of Pashtuns.But that has enraged non-Pashtun Hindko-speakers, who have launched violent protests to demand their own province.

A case for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

The Frontier Post
Abdul Hadi Mayar

Literally the second largest nationality of Pakistan, the Pakhtuns have every legal and political right to have an identity of their own. On the contrary, the resentment, shown in parts of Hazara division to the renaming of NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa is totally devoid of any legal justification. Neither the call for a separate Hazara province has any legal or constitutional validity. The demand for the integration of Pakhtun-dominated areas of Pakistan and renaming of their area according to the ethnic identity of Pakhtuns has a history of more than six decades. There is no denying the fact that prior to the partition of the Subcontinent, majority of the Pakhtuns in the fold of Khudayee Khidmatgar movement of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and Khan Shaheed Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai were against the division of India. However, they were not alone in favouring a united India. After all, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (the mother organisation of Jamiat Ulema-e Islam) and the Jamaat-e-Islami are also on record of opposing the creation of Pakistan. Right or wrong, these and other Indian politicians, like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, argued that such a thing would divide the might of the Muslims of the Subcontinent. However, once the country was established, the Pakhtun nationalist movement had embraced the new reality with an open heart. Going by their overwhelming victory in the 1937 general election, the Khudayee Khidmatgar [Surkhposh] movement could have subverted the outcome of referendum for Pakistan, hadn’t they opted to stay away from it. Even after the creation of Pakistan, Bacha Khan had made patch up with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and a programme was evolved under which the Father of the Nation was scheduled to visit Shahi Bagh - the residence of Bacha Khan in Charsadda, which was later changed into Wali Bagh. However, as the Quaid-e-Azam arrived at Peshawar Airport, the then Pakistan Muslim League leaders in the NWFP convinced him that Bacha Khan planned to kill him at his residence, thus forcing him not to meet the Pakhtun leader and return to Karachi. In fact, the NWFP-based PML leaders could foresee their fate if a populist party, like the Khudayee Khidmatgar movement, had joined forces with the Quaid-e-Azam. Otherwise, it is no less than a proverb that the Pakhtuns never harm, let along kill, their guest. That Bacha Khan had accepted the reality of Pakistan could be substantiated by many evidences. He would have never called Punjab as Big Brother if he was against the existence of Pakistan. In his autobiography, he even goes to the extent of saying - while citing the marriage of one his grand daughters with a Punjabi man - that his family does not believe in racial discrimination. That he was always painted as a traitor was only on the basis of the bias, which the then Pakistani power circles had against him on account of his liberal social democratic politics, which the power that be considered as a stumbling block in the way of its power game based on theocratic politicking. Realities in distant and recent past have clearly shown that even those among the Pakhtuns who, in the past, had been dubbed as traitors, have proved their patriotism when the time has come while those whom the power circles had empowered as ‘strategic assets’ for outpowering anti-theocratic nationalist forces have been turning against the state. In Pakistan, the Pakhtuns have a population of more than 35 million, which makes them the second biggest nationality of Pakistan after the Punjabis. However, right from the British era, they have been divided on the basis of NWFP, Balochistan, FATA, and PATA. There is no harm to Islam or Pakistan if such a big human community is granted the right to be united and bestowed with their own identity. Rather, it would create a sense of more responsibility in them. Pakhtuns and Afghans are the name of the same nation. If we go by history Khushhal Khan Khattak and other ancient Pakhtun writers have described them as Afghans. However, giving a name to their area - whether it is Pukhtunkhwa or Afghania - can, in no way, bracket them with Afghanistan. If, by retaining the name of Punjab, the people of the Punjab have not been linked with India, then how can the Pakhtuns get affiliated with Afghanistan by giving them a name of their choice? In the NWFP, the Pakhtuns comprise 73 per cent of the total population of the province while the remaining 27 per cent include the Hindko speaking people, the Siraikis and the Chitralis. Therefore, they have every right to rename their province according to their wishes. As for the opposition of the people of some parts of Hazara division to the name of Pakhtunkhwa or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, they would have definitely been justified in their opposition if the Pakhtuns had made the demand on the basis of any bias or hostility against them. Being a larger nationality of Pakistan, the Pakhtuns have never had any bias against the Hindko speaking people nor is demand for their identity based on hostility towards the people of Hazara. Whether in Hazara or other parts of NWFP, the Pakhtu and Hindko speaking people have always had excellent relations with each other. Secondly, being in majority in the NWFP, the Pakhtuns have every right to rename the province according to their wishes. The number of Pakhtuns in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan is almost more than that of Hindko speaking people in the NWFP. Then, should the Pakhtuns in those provinces also demand to rename those provinces in line with their wishes? On the other hand, the demand for Hazara province has no legal or constitutional position. Hazara consists of five districts i.e. Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Kohistan, and Batagram, besides the semi-tribal area of Kala Dhaka. Batagram and Kala Dhaka are totally Pakhtun districts while in Kohistan they are in majority with no Hindko speaking population. In Mansehra too, the Pakhtuns are in slight majority. Only two districts i.e. Abbottabad and Haripur, are Hindko-dominated districts but there too the Pakhtun live in sufficient number. Therefore, on what basis can the people of just two-and-a-half districts demand a separate province? Even the 1973 Constitution says that any demand for a separate province can be entertained only if the concerned provincial assembly passes a resolution to this effect with two-thirds majority. Therefore, while the Pakhtuns have every right to rename their province according to their wishes, the people of Hazara have no legal and constitutional right to demand a separate province. To subvert general will is very easy in a polity like Pakistan; only a few violent protest demonstrations and offering the sacrifice of a few human beings can do that, but depriving the second largest majority of their genuine political right can never be in tandem with political and constitutional justice.
Saved from:
Dated: Thursday, April 15, 2010, Rabi Ul Sani 29, 1431 A.H.