KP politics: Of name changes and one-line manifestos
The ANP came into power promising an end to terrorism, but their only agenda was changing the name of their province.
Walking out from parliament is one of the oldest forms of expressing dissent or dissatisfaction with the government. However, on December 9, there was a walkout in parliament over an issue of immeasurable proportions. No, not drone strikes. No, not memogate or Ghulam Nabi Fai. No, not Zardari’s health or Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif’s exchange of dirty laundry and certainly not pictures of Veena Malik. This was much bigger, yet it could be summarised in three letters. KPK.
Apparently the ruling party of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ANP, decided that the abbreviated use of the province’s name in ministries’ written replies to legislators’ questions was an affront to the people of the province. Now, without burrowing too far into the semantics of the new name, which itself excludes a large minority of KP-ites (they aren’t Pakhtun so the association with the ethnic group is invalid), the last time I checked, the former NWFP was a province ravaged by terrorism, illiteracy, hunger, subjugation of women and state corruption.
Granted, so is the rest of the country, but in KP (as this newspaper calls it) the situation is worse. Military operations were required to purge Swat of terrorists. Almost every day, cases of extreme women’s rights abuses come up, and corruption rumours continue to swirl around the province’s major players.
Unfortunately, the fact that these issues remain unaddressed is not entirely the ANP’s fault. The ANP is the only party in government that has already managed to accomplish all of the goals in its election manifesto but one.
The ANP did not come to power promising an end to terrorism or corruption. Their only agenda was the name of their province. After all, why use geographic markers when you can have a polarising local language name instead?
Unfortunately for the province though, their only real choices were the ANP, the (locally) much weaker PPP, or remnants of the reactionary group that served up Swat on a silver platter to the militants. Not much of a choice.
While the PML-N and PTI are at least trying to expand their vote banks, the ANP is still consolidating its ‘stronghold’. This is not good for the people of the province, as limiting the appeal of the party to the province, and even then, only one ethnic group of the province, is bad for the Hazarewals, bad for other Pakistanis, and eventually, bad for the Pakhtuns.