SWAT: The demand for new provinces is increasing with the residents of Malakand seeking provincial status for their division. The demand for a Seraiki and Bahawalpur provinces in Punjab and Hazara province in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) are gaining momentum.
While it is expected that the formation of these provinces will soon be announced by the prime minister, the people of Malakand Division have also started raising demands for a separate province.
According to the residents, Malakand Division is rich in natural resources, but it has always suffered at the hands of political leaders.
Justifying the demand for provicial status for Malakand, Swat Traders’ Federation President, who is also a leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), said that Malakand division consists of seven districts, and is three times larger in size than the Hazara Division, which comprises only three districts. Hence if Hazara can be made a separate province, then the people of Malakand had every right to demand provincial status for their division.
“We will start a movement after Eid,” he said. Giving rationale of the demand, he said Malakand is rich in natural resources such as marble, emerald, forests and water, which are being used by other people, while the inhabitants are not benefitting from them.
“The residents are deprived of even the basic facilities of life such as electricity, gas and water. By having our own separate province we will be able to exploit our resources in a more efficient manner,” he claimed, adding that this was the right time for the people of Malakand to raise their voice.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, a noted social activist, also supported the idea.
“Malakand Dvision deserves to be given a provincial status as it has a rich cultural heritage, thick forests, fertile lands and abundant water and mineral resources. It certainly has the potential to become the most prosperous area in the country due to its geo-strategic location,” he remarked.
“The entire region used to be popular for its prosperity before the creation of Pakistan. It can still become one of the richest parts of the country. All it needs is sincere and honest political leaders,” said Yousafzai.
A large number of people believe that Malakand has continuously been overlooked by the political leadership. “We have always been neglected in the provision of facilities, and we are even by-passed in the use of our own resources,” said Iqbal Khan, a social activist of Buner.
“By having our own province our own people would be empowered and would be able to address our issues,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.
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