Infuriated over the exclusion of two districts from the proposed plan of a new district, the Saraiki Parties Alliance held a protest on Friday. They maintained that not including Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts in the proposed province was akin to discrimination.
The protesters marched from the town hall in DI Khan to the famous Topan Wala Chowk, where they blocked the circular road, suspending traffic for two hours. They held placards and banners inscribed with the demand to include the two districts in the proposed province.
They set on fire an effigy of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam head Fazlur Rehman, dubbing him the main culprit.
The head of Saraikistan Qaumi Movement Shahid Atta Kahayarah stated that the Saraiki people have distinct culture, language, history, and will not live under the Pakhtun-dominated rule of Peshawar.
Dubbing the rulers “Takhtha Peshawar”, he accused them of exploiting the resources of the Saraiki people, which the locals will not accept at any cost.
Leaders of different Saraiki nationalist parties addressed the gathering and threatened countrywide strike if their demands were not accepted.
The strike was mainly observed in areas dominated by the Saraiki people while the areas where the Pakhtuns have established businesses, remained open.
On Thursday, a meeting of all the Saraiki parties was held in DI Khan. Representatives of various Saraiki nationalist parties unanimously decided to continue the struggle for the inclusion of the two district into the proposed province.
The participants rejected the Saraiki Sooba Commission, terming its recommendations of “Bahawalpur Janubi Punjab” province as unconstitutional.
They demanded to abolish the title and establish a new province named ‘Sooba Saraikistan” with the inclusion of Tank and DI Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2013.