What’s in a name?

Wajahat Malik April 21, 2010

"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

This famous quote by William Shakespeare might work to win the love of a woman, but when it comes to love for a land and its people, I would say there is a lot in a name. Names give identity to people and this identity collectively binds them into nations and cultures.

Sarhad was a name that bound together the people of this province for over half a century. The people of Sarhad Pakhtuns, Hazarawals, Kohistanis, Chitralis and the Seraiki people in the south of the province lived in relative peace and harmony. Their collective identity was the province of Sarhad and clearly there was no problem.

But then the Awami National Party (ANP) came along, a Pakhtun nationalist party that emerged from years of political wilderness, and started to rule the roost in Sarhad. The ANP had always demanded that the province be renamed, because it seems they were constantly going through an identity crisis and wanted to feel more secure by calling the province Pakhtunistan or Pakhtunkhwa.

The other ethnicities of the province had no such issues. The ANP, being the coalition partners in the government, finally got their chance to change the name of the province by exploiting the 18th amendment. The PML-N, the only major political party that opposed the name because they had a huge vote bank in the Hazara region, initially wavered and then finally compromised over the bizarre name of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

And in this manner, the province of Sarhad was given a false identity in the name of political expediency, vested interests, shallow egos and fossilized nationalism. The people of Sarhad were not taken into confidence; there was no referendum, no debate, no brain storming and no consensus was reached. They were left high and dry in the wilderness by political parties who claimed to represent them.

A superficial name imposed on the people of Sarhad was too much for the people of Hazara who took to the streets to protest this highhandedness and injustice. For eight days there were peaceful protests and then the ANP stoked the already highly charged emotions of the people of Hazara by celebrating the new name and by imposing section 144 in Abbottabad.

Consequently the protests turned violent eight people were killed and 150 injured by indiscriminate police firing. The ruling ANP, responsible for creating unity and harmony among the people of the strife-ridden province, has driven a wedge between the populace of Sarhad at a very critical time. N

ow, the demand for the creation of the province of Hazara will ring louder than before as the ANP has cast the first stone in the Balkanization of the province of Sarhad. Abandoned by the PML-N at the last minute, the people of Hazara have been left to fend for their own grievances. The PML-Q, now in disarray, is trying to exploit the situation but the people of Hazara who have been stabbed in the back by most of the other major political parties are now smart enough to realize that the PML-Q is also trying to gain political mileage out of this issue.

A political vacuum has emerged in the region of Hazara as the Hazarawals now don’t trust PML-N, JUI-F or PML-Q to represent them. What they need right now is a brand new political party based on nonethnic and linguistic lines that should strive for the creation of the province of Hazara by taking in administrative, economic and governmental aspects into account.

This party should give voice to the people of Hazara and rise above the prejudices of language, caste, race and religion. It is also high time for the leaders of different political parties who are disgruntled with their own leadership and have resigned, or are thinking of resigning over the issue of renaming the province, to come forward and join their heads together to form this new political party and call it the Hazara Awami League.


Salahuddin Ghaznavi | 13 years ago | Reply Firstly, the ANP are a democratically elected party, and have been given a mandate by the people of Sarhad/Pakhtunkhwa. If that is what the majority of the people want, then that is what they should get. It's as simple as that. Plus, there is a lot in a name. You can't compare a silly Shakespearean quote with real politics, and that too Pakistani politics! If infact that is true ("you can call a rose whatever you like, it will still smell the same") then what seems to be the issue with the name change. Let them go ahead and change the name, if it doesn't make any difference, then why are the people of hazara protesting against it. And why did this guy even bother writing an article if a name really didn't matter. Ofcourse it matters.
shami | 13 years ago | Reply i am a swati, pashto speaking at home, home town mansehra,but reality is that name khyber pukhtoonkwa(ANP) smells prejudice.hazara should be a separate province for hazarawals like me.excellent job wajahat sb spot on.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ