ISLAMABAD: The cost of updating infrastructure and official documents to reflect the new name of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is Rs8 billion, according to provincial government statistics.
Of this amount the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government will have to bear Rs5 billion while the federal government will have to pay Rs3 billion.
Driving through the province on the winding Indus Highway, stretching along the bank of river Indus, will reveal that the signboards still bear the province’s old name – the North West Frontier Province, or NWFP. The billboards of various law-enforcing departments, educational institutions and private entities are also outdated.
Then there are some signboards that have both the old and new name of the province. The historic Rail-Road bridge of Khushal Garh, for instance, has boards on roadsides that bear both NWFP and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s name. Vehicles in the province, too, have their old number plates.
Government officials say that the paperwork needed to update the existing infrastructure to reflect the province’s new name had already been finished. “The provincial government has also asked other provinces and federal and provincial departments to update their records to the new name,” the official added.
Senator Zahid Khan, who is the general secretary of the ruling Awami National Party (ANP), said the process of updating the infrastructure to reflect the new name was slow because of financial constraints. The provincial government’s finances, he said, were already stretched thin due the war against terrorism and the recent floods.
The North West Frontier Province was created on November 9, 1901. Administrative affairs and geographical locations were given preference over ethnicities in demarcations.
After the creation of Pakistan, the majority Pakhtun population has been trying to get the province renamed but it was not until 2010 that the Pakistan Peoples Party government caved-in to ANP’s demand of a new name.
Several names, including Frontier, Pakhtunkhwa, Sarhad, Pakhtunistan and Afghania, were suggested for the province. The province finally got its new name through the 18th Amendment to the constitution. It was renamed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – a name that attracted much criticism both from Pakhtuns (who just wanted the name to be just Pakhtunkhwa) and the Hazarewals division, an ethnic minority in the Hazara division of the province.
While Pashtu is the dominant language, Hindko (spoken by Hazarewals) and Seraiki are other indigenous languages of the province.
Pashtu itself has three main dialects: the Eastern Pashtu that is spoken in the province; the Southern Pashtu, which is spoken in Balochistan; and the Central Pashtu spoken in Waziristan.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2010.
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