A new name finally, but what next?

Editorial April 16, 2010

With the passage of the 18th amendment in the Senate, the northwest province which was known simply by its geographical location and no wonder the desire for its residents to have a different name will finally have a name that makes historical sense.

Of course, this may not go down well with the people of Hazara who have for the past many days been vigorously campaigning against the name-change and for their own province. A day prior to the passage of the constitutional amendment in the Senate, the PML-N chief had said on record that he had no objection if a province was carved out of Hazara obviously he has been compelled to say this out of fear of losing his party’s vote-bank in this mainly Hindko-speaking region of the province.

Furthermore, some members of his party have also said that a Seraiki province is possible, to be carved out of southern Punjab. The PML-Q for its part is touting a similar line. And while the passage of the 18th amendment should be cause for much joy for all those who support democracy and want the Constitution and parliament to reign supreme in Pakistan, the fact also is that the ongoing disturbances in Hazara will not die down anytime soon.

That said, it is worth asking whether the creation of new units on the basis of ethnicity is a good idea given the nature of our federation and the presence of diverse groups scattered across it. The suggestion that any re-division of units be carried out on the basis of administrative needs is far more sensible. Above all, the violence needs to be brought to an end.

There are far more civilised ways to seek change through parliament and via the constitution. The information minister has suggested another constitutional amendment bill to create a new province. A debate in parliament could indeed help decide many of the questions

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