Politics in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is likely to face a tug of war over the provincial boundary as a resolution demanding a Hazara province will be tabled in the assembly session which starts September 10.
The resolution was submitted on Friday by three Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers – Advisor on Higher Education Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, Advisor on Food Qalandar Khan Lodhi and Sardar Idrees.
Lines seem to have been drawn as the left-of-centre Awami National Party (ANP) termed the move as a “conspiracy to split K-P” on Saturday. The same day in Abbottabad, lawmakers from Hazara – with party loyalties from across the political spectrum – agreed on a “joint struggle” for the creation of a new province.
The 24 lawmakers, representing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), PTI and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), met to chalk out their future strategy.
“We will act together in assemblies to push our demand of a new province,” Ghani told The Express Tribune. The lawmakers will raise this issue in the provincial as well the National Assembly (NA), he added.
According to the PTI parliamentarian, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was taken on board before submitting the Hazara resolution.
Ghani also rejected the ANP’s criticism. Given their nominal representation their opposition does not carry much weight, he said. The ANP should support the demand for a separate province and “should not oppose creation of a new province on administrative grounds.”
Carving smaller units will make the federation stronger, as smaller units are easier to govern, argued Ghani.
Right time, wrong issue?
Responding to a question about the timing of the issue, Ghani said the lawmakers have previously been active in the movement for a separate Hazara province. “We were part of the movement, and now, since most of us have been elected, we want to take this up constitutionally.”
PTI MPA Ghani hoped the resolution will successfully sail through the K-P Assembly otherwise, he said, the lawmakers will continue with their struggle.
“The resolution asks for the amendment of Article 2A (I) of the Constitution, wherein a comma is to be included after Sindh to insert Hazara,” and can be amended with a two-third majority in the NA.
The red wall
On Saturday, the ANP rang alarm bells, calling the demand for a Hazara province “a conspiracy to split K-P”.
At a news conference, the party’s organising committee chairperson Senator Haji Adeel argued the PTI-led government was using the Hazara issue to distract everyone from its performance over the last three months. He proceeded to call for the merger of Attock, Mianwali and Margalla with K-P.
Senator Adeel demanded the provincial government establish the Abaseen division before carving out a Hazara province.
Hazara Movement and Abseen Division
The call for a separate Hazara province cropped up in April 2010 after the renaming of erstwhile NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The change of name did not enjoy unanimous support in the region. Protests for a Hazara province led to the death of seven people. Later an octogenarian politician from Abbottabad Baba Haider Zaman tried to streamline public resentment and launched the Tehreek Suba-e-Hazara to push for the region’s separation from K-P.
However, the then ANP government tried to counter the demand by carving out the Abaseen Division, separating the three districts of Kohistan, Battagram and Torghar, where the majority speak Pashto. Former chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti announced creation of the Abaseen division in June 2011 at a public meeting in Kohistan but it has yet to take effect as new districts and divisions cannot be created before a national census.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2013.
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