Leaders in favour of Hazara province, on Thursday, threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement if the government failed to respect their demand.
Speakers expressed their resolve to continue their struggle for the creation of Hazara province, while addressing scores of activists and supporters.
The day was observed to commemorate activists of Tehrik Suba Hazara (TSH) who were killed in the crossfire with police officials on April 12, two years ago, in Abbottabad. They were demonstrating against the renaming of North West Frontier Province as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Many others sustained bullet wounds in the clash with police officials during a rally organised in 2010.
The administration in Abbottabad took extraordinary security measures to avoid any untoward incident this time. Heavy contingents of anti-riot police were deployed which facilitated participants in taking out processions without suspension of traffic or forcing offices and businesses to close down in the city.
Speakers maintained that their demand for Hazara province was based on the discrimination faced by the Hazarewal for the last six decades, while addressing public rallies.
They said the Hazarewal had sacrificed their fertile lands for Tarbela Dam, Ghazi-Barotha Power Project, Khanpur Dam and several other projects of national importance but little investment had been made in education, health and communications.
The Hazarewal have also been deprived of their share in the provincial exchequer, they claimed.
They said that Hazarewal were forced to earn their living in Karachi while their resources were usurped by the ruling elite sitting across the Attock Bridge.
Criticising the coalition government in the centre, speakers said the government had yet to fix responsibility or register an FIR against the killers of protesters on April 12, 2010.
Speakers said that they would pursue their demand for Hazara province and would not desist from marching to Islamabad.
“Politicians should not underestimate the movement and avoid repeating the history of Bangladesh, otherwise Hazara could turn into another Bangladesh,” warned Baba Haider Zaman of TSH.
Leaders warned political parties opposing the cause of Hazara province of repercussions in the next general election and claimed that parties supporting Hazara province in their manifestoes would sweep the election in the division.
They lambasted the leadership of the PML-N, PPP and PML-Q for not seriously supporting the movement for a separate Hazara province as according to them they were not ready to offend ANP which was opposed to the idea of Hazara province.
Although a judicial commission headed by Justice Abdul Hafeez Kundi of the Peshawar High Court was formed to fix responsibility for the killings, its findings suggested that the protesters had died in an exchange of fire with police officials and it could not be determined who had fired the bullets which had claimed the activists’ lives.
FIRs lodged with Cantt police did not mention the exact number of deaths and injuries. It is commonly believed that seven protesters lost their lives while over 100 sustained injuries in the crossfire that day.
Tehrik Huqooq-i-Hazara led by Ali Asghar Khan, Tehrik Shuhada-i-Hazara led by the heirs of activists killed in the incident and Suba Hazara Tehrik headed by Sardar Muhammad Yousaf organised pubic rallies in the city.
They were also joined by hundreds of workers from the PML-Q, Hazara Qaumi Mahaz, JI, JUI-F, MQM, Tehrik- i-Insaf, Pakistan Awami Tehrik and JUP from all six districts of Hazara.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.