SWAT: The area of Swat’s seven tehsils will be no more called the ‘Yousafzai state of Swat’.
Marring the historic status of the royal state of Swat and loosening the bond between the 2.3 million population, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has announced further division of Swat district.
K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak's announcement, made on October 20, has spread waves of discomfort with the area’s leaders ready to oppose any such move from the center as well from the provincial government.
“When we were ruling Swat as a state, there were no calls for division, no hue and cry over health or education facilities, complaints about water or poor infrastructure in the state… but today for political point scoring they [K-P government] are up for further division of the reaming area of the state, which we will oppose,” the son of last prince of Swat state Mian Gul prince Adnan Aurangzeb told The Express Tribune.
As many as seven Tehsil’s constitute Swat district of the Malakand Division. The district is the third most populous among the districts in the province.
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“Buner, Shangla and Kohistan were historically part of the Swat state, but despite our objections all three were given the status of districts and now the PTI-led government has designed to further isolate people of the state of Swat,” Abdur Rahim added.
Statistics reveal that most of the areas in Buner, Shangla and Kohistan still depend heavily on Swat district for their health facilities, education and daily utilities. We don’t understand why they [K-P government] have announced them as separate districts when they rely on us for their resources, he said.
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“Elements in the PTI leadership demand the split of the locals for political reasons. Further division of resources of the Swat district will pave way for further corruption and we will not allow this,” Qaumi Watan Party leader in Swat Fazal Rehman said adding that after 20 years, the political leadership still lament the decision of carving out districts from Swat.
“How can one think of a separate district in 18 kilometer radius which still lacks basic necessities like water, education and health."
“Dr Haider Ali who is pleading the case for separate districts should first fulfill the necessities and then announce the formation of separate district,” Rehman underscored.
In a similar vein, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl General Sectary for Swat Ishaq Zahid demanded that district should first be given its due share in resources.
“The main DHQ hospital still lacks main facilities for the large population of the district,” he said adding that if further division of the district was a solution to the problems the chief minister should start from Peshawar.
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“Peshawar has 95 union councils while Mardan has 75 union councils,” Zahid maintained.
The PTI government will place a cut on Swat’s resources. They should allocate more funds for infrastructure development, school and tourism industry for the facilitation of the proposed upper Swat district, Ishaq added.
“In every civilised culture of the world decision makers of the society opt for the popular view, we also demand that a referendum is held for the district making process, if the majority votes for division the government should go ahead with it,” Abdur Rahim said.
Rahim recalled that their forefathers had also opposed the governments decision of making Buner, Shangla and Kohistan out of Swat.
“Awareness among the masses has increased manifold and people know what the result will be. But an MPA from Swat is pleading for a non-issue. They should instead focus on education, infrastructure and health,” he said reiterating his demand for a referendum.
The Swat region has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years and was earlier known as Udyana. The Yousafzai State of Swat was a province of the Durrani Empire governed by local rulers known as the Akhunds. A princely state of the British Empire till 1947, the status changed in 1969 when the Akhunds acceded to Pakistan.
The large state had included Buner, Shangla and Kohistan which were then in 1969 divided into different districts.