Hazara suba shows the way

April 29, 2010

The centralised military bureaucratic establishment loves to devolve power and authority to the local level because it poses no political threat to it. It is designed to be apolitical. When its turn comes, the political class perceives it as a threat and loses no time in putting an end to any semblance of local governance.

This is unfortunate because the increasing difficulty of securing one’s life and livelihood is happening at the local level, far removed from the radar screens not only of provincial and federal governments but also provincial assemblies and the parliament. All kinds of interpretations have been made of the recent uprising of Hazarawals but none sticks as much as the plain fact that the people have risen in their own defence and for their own rights.

There is enough historical evidence to demonstrate that once a spontaneous uprising of the people takes place leaders and interests of all hues and shape are drawn into it. The PML-Q is visible for it thinks it has found a popular cause to come alive again. The PML-N leaders cannot let that happen. Even the Awami National Party MPAs from Hazara can be seen doing their bit. The NGOs in the area were in the forefront of naming a Shaheed Chowk in Abbottabad after those who died as a result of the brutality unleashed by state actors.

That the Hazara movement is led by a former nazim with an association with the PML-Q is less important than the fact that all and sundry are in it. The leadership and the led have made it clear that the Hazarawals should have the right to solve their own problems rather than having them solved by a distant Peshawar. At play here are the experiences of the leader as a nazim and the apathy of the distant deliverers that his flock sees in their ordinary business of life.

If the political class abhors local governance, then smaller and more provinces is the answer. A province, with all the trappings of power, is a political theatre and the politicians would love to be on stage to be governors, chief ministers and ministers. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa satisfies a national aspiration of the Pakhtuns and they are entitled to it. But it nevertheless remains a mere name change and many doubt whether it will bring any improvement in the life of an ordinary Pakhtun.

It is the same province and the same government. In the case of Hazara, governance will be closer to the governed. It will open new avenues for local politicians, the bureaucracy and the unemployed. The population may be small and sparse but the location of the two largest sources of hydropower – Tarbela and Bhasha – will earn it enough royalty to become self-sustaining. It is also a tourist heaven, waiting to be marketed for bigger bucks. The Hazarawals, educated as well as uneducated, tend to migrate in search of opportunities elsewhere. Hazara suba is likely to slow down this emigration.

However, an intelligent strategy to develop education and skills to export manpower will bring back remittances. Given a low industrial potential, this may be the wiser course. With backwardness now part of the National Finance Commission criteria, Hazara will get a reasonable share from the divisible pool.Hazara shows that the route to better local governance is through smaller provinces. But the formation of the provinces should be achieved democratically, not like the apolitical devolution of the Musharraf era. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was backed up by an elected provincial assembly. Referendum should be the basis of creating new provinces.

The writer served as chief economist of Pakistan during the last government (pervez.tahir@tribune.com.pk)


Arshad | 13 years ago | Reply People of Hazarawal are demanding separate province since long from the platform of Hazara Quami Mahaz (HQM). After renaming the province Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, almost all political parties in the region has started demanding a separate province named "Hazara". Until the year 2000 the Hazara region was an administrative subdivision of the province known as Hazara Division, headquartered at the city of Abbottabad. Hazara Division was the biggest division of NWFP until that time. However, the divisions were abolished in 2000, as part of an administrative shake up. Although the government has abolished the administrative division, the identity and name was retained and used for other purposes. For example, the University of Hazara, based in Mansehra, The election commission of Pakistan also groups the districts of Pakistan under the former divisions. Five districts make up Hazara; these are Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Kohistan, and Mansehra. The leading distinctive features of Hazara are its mountain ranges, the plains, the valleys and the lakes. The area blessed with the rich and harmonious combination of tall and stately fine trees, high mountains, plains, beautiful valleys and lakes, which make it a heaven of peace. Hazara has the major industry of NWFP, including TIP, Hattar Industrial state. This region is famous for Tarbela Dam Haripur(Tarbela Dam is a dam on the Indus River. It is one of the largest earth filled dams in the world and it produces most of Pakistan's hydroelectricity), Kakul military academy Abbottabad, tea plantation and best grade tobacco of Pakistan, Karakoram highway pass through Hazara, while not through rest of NWFP. It is a fact that major resources of Hazara region were used for the development of other part of the province. Development work was not done in Hazara region since independence, because of the prejudiced attitude of the Pakhtoon. We should not forget that, ANP opposed Pakistan at the time of independence and even now, internally they are working for Greater Paktunistan. Their elders even refused to buried in Pakistan. Everyone, must have seen that how DIG Abbottabad (a Pakhtoon ) ordered to kill 11 & injured over 100 innocent people of Hazara. After this killing, not a single leader from ANP visited Hazara region and not a single person has been arrested. One of their top leaders says on national media what happened if 7 or 8 people have been killed in Abbottabad (SHAME ON THESE PEOPLE). **Since, people of Hazara has different language, different culture, different values, different customs and above all, after renaming the province on ethnic ground, people of Hazara are justified to demand a separate province (HAZARA PROVINCE).** Government of Pakistan should not waist time to announce Hazara Province, because, this is their legitimate demand.
Wajahat malik | 13 years ago | Reply After being led down by all the major dictatorial political parties, the people of Hazara are ready to reshape their own destiny along with their administrative map. Now the masters of Balkanization, ANP will find it very hard to govern Hazara, as they have it seems willingly aliented a large chunk of the population of Sarhad not only in Hazara but also in Chitral and Sothern Seriaki speaking districts. I fully agree with your line of reasoning.
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