Prof. Yaseen Iqbal Yousafzai
Punjab constituting about 55% of the total Pakistani population, is the most populous province of the country while KP (13%) is about a quarter of it. Area-wise, Balochistan is the largest province constituting about 39% of the total area and KP is the smallest with about 8.5%. For the last few decades, KP has been the direct victim of the Afghan war which started in 1979 and ended in early 90s. In addition to indiscriminate explosions which not only killed many including women and children but destroyed educational and socioeconomic infrastructure as well. The major influx of refugees was also into KP and this province accommodated millions of Afghans who left their country due to the decades long war. This land was constantly used as a frontline or base-camp for war against USSR.
The consequences of those policies are known to everyone and the current insecurity is still a insurmountable challenge. In spite of all these sufferings, no attention was paid to the deteriorating economy and education of the province. After the withdrawal of USSR, the war on terror started and this land suffered the most in comparison to others. Now the withdrawal of US / NATO from Afghanistan in 2014, is considered as another uncertainty or storm looming over the skies of this unfortunate land. This obviously requires a peaceful environment and unity among various ethnic groups in Pakistan in general and KP in particular. Pashtuns / Pukhtuns are not only in majority in KP but have a considerable population in Hazara as well. On the basis of the average household statistics, in the whole KP, the ratio of Pashto to hindko speakers (1.1 : 0.29) is much higher than the hindko to pashto speakers (0.25 : 0.073) in Hazara. If non-pukhtuns of Hazara demand for a province then that province will be limited to three districts i.e. Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra, although with considerable Pukhtun population; however, the districts of Torghar, Batagram and Kohistan will naturally demand for another Pukhtun province due to their majority in these districts. Similarly, we will have to look into the ground realities that in addition to Hazaras e.g. Maliars, Parachas, Awans, Sarraras, Gujars, Gakhars, Dhund Abbasis and Karlal, and a large number of Pukhtuns including Mashwanis, Tareens, Tanolis, Dilazaks, Jadoons, Alizai, Khattak, Barakzai, Kakar, Umerzai, and Yousafzai also live in the same Hindko speaking districts of Hazara. On the one hand PTI and Jumaat-i-Islami never supported the Pashto language or Pukhtun issues (like renaming NWFP, Kalabagh dam, industrialization of the region etc) on a good spirit to integrate Pakistan and avoid nationalist issues but now against their popular slogans their joint government is supporting a sub-ethnic demand of further dividing the already divided Pukhtuns on sub-ethnic grounds. None should be denied his/her due right but the yardstick / standard should be the same for all. After establishing Hazara province, there must be a province for Siraikis in DIK, and even separate provinces for other Hindko speakers in various cities / regions of KP, Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and so on. This will give rise to a number of questions, fo example, if the hindko speakers of three districts of Hazara cannot live in KP with majority of chief ministers from Hazara, then why the three districts of Pashto speakers (Batagram, Torghar and Kohistan) should live in the Hazara province? What about the bilingual ethnic Pashtuns in the district Mansehra, Abbottabad and Haripur? What about hindko speakers of Peshawar, Kohat, Attok, Khairabad? What about millions of Pashtuns in Karachi? Would you establish a new province for them and the Pashtuns of Balochistan, Urdu speakers of Karachi and Hyderabad, Saraiki speakers of D I Khan and so on? The answer is simply \”NO\” because it is not feasible administratively as well as economically. This will be the first step towards a journey of an unending division and will certainly add to the already complex situation. Thus raising the issue of Hazara province at this stage is not a wise development.
Let us explore the issues a bit further. The major languages spoken in various parts of Pakistan are Punjabi (44.17%), Pashto (16.97%), Sindhi (12.64%), Saraiki (10.42%), Urdu (7.59%), Balochi (3.59%) and others (3.59%). First of all, the focus of a wise and visionary government should be to address the issues causing such divisions but if the government is really option-less and has no other way to resolve the issues and committed to open another Pandora-box then 6 provinces for the above major languages and another multi-ethnic province for the remaining 3.59% should be created. There should be geographical changes as well, for example, the Pashtuns districts / regions of Punjab such as Mianwali and Attok should be given to KP. Even if you are in favour of Kalabagh dam, build it but an equivalent area of land from the beneficiary provinces should be given to KP to compensate the province and affectees of the dam. According to the well known journalist of the country with expertise in Pukhtun issues (Mr. Rahimullah Yousafzai) and 1981 census, \”In the whole of the KP, among the 1,610,022 households, as many as 1,099,620 households spoke Pashto, 291,832 spoke Hindko and 63,635 spoke Seraiki. Hazara was the only division where Hindko speakers (250,283 households) outnumbered Pashto speakers (72,777 households). In D I Khan division, which in 1981 comprised D I Khan, Bannu, and Kohat districts, Pashto was spoken by 122,416 households, Seraiki by 63,330, and Hindko by 3,442. In Malakand division, Pashto was spoken by 304,518 households, Hindko by 1,450, and other languages, which include Chitrali and Gujri, by 50,078. And in Peshawar division, Pashto was spoken by 599,909, Hindko by 36,657, Punjabi by 12,115, and Urdu by 9,567. This should open the eyes of those people, especially the writers and analysts from outside the KP, who think Hazara and D I Khan are non-Pakhtoon areas. This reminds one of those who still believe that all of northern Afghanistan, or areas north of the Hindu Kush, are inhabited only by non-Pakhtoon people like Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmens and Hazaras\”. Furthermore, among the Hindko speakers, a large number of households are bilingual and ethnically Pashtuns e.g. Mashwanis, Tareens, Swatis, Tahirkhelis, Tanolis, Dilazaks, Jadoons, Alizai, Khattak, Barakzai, Kakar, Umerzai, and Yousafzai. So passing resolutions for new provinces in such s hurry will be a grave blunder particularly at the present critical juncture and will cause surfacing of a number of unexpected issues.
Pukhtuns are simple and straightforward people. They don\’t care much about their personal benefits / consequences when asked for sacrifices. They did whatever they could for Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. After decades long suffering when the desperate Pukhtuns heard the slogan of \”change\” raised by PTI, they voted for it with the hope that this party will focus on peace and Pukhtuns will be given an opportunity to live in peace. The other slogan of PTI was about merit which was really needed and the only solution to the deteriorating education and life standards. However, the security situation worsened day by day and merit in appointments, particularly in the higher education sector, is evident from the recent news and articles, for example, Daily The News 15/03/2014 and Daily The Frontierpost 21/03/2014. Is this the change Pukhtuns voted for? Forget about the developmental projects, the universities of the province are constantly demanding for funds to pay the monthly salaries to employees? The financial situation of the universities was worse in PPP time in comparison to the Musharraf regime and now it is worse than the PPP regime. The teachers communities are confused. On the one hand they are teaching democracy while on the other they pray for Musharraf and Dr. Attaurahman to come back to enable them to establish and develop laboratories. Did you promise this kind of a change?
Pukhtun voted for you unanimously without any regard for the inexperienced candidates contesting elections from your party. Pukhtun are not fools, they had a great trust in you and did not vote for you unknowingly. They were the most suffered people of the country and expected something from you but unfortunately the outcome seen so far did not reflect that. They had voted for MMA in 2002 due to the widespread anti-American feelings as a reaction to the Afghan crisis in 2001. After the poor performance of the right-wing MMA government, they voted for the liberal ANP in 2008 elections. After seeing their performance, they voted for the liberal plus Islamist PTI. This did not happen by chance but the poor security situation, corruption, violation of merit etc and more probably, a hope for a better future appear as the possible reasons for PTI gains in 2013 elections. Some intellectuals point towards the expected American withdrawal from Afghanistan in near future which is another unpredictable issue mingling over the skies of Pakhtunkhwa.
In short, PTI was the last option and Pukhtuns expected a change; however, the last night resolution in KP assembly regarding Hazara province indicated as if PTI had resolved all the important issues and had solved all the problems and now their priority shifted towards controversial issues. Such issues need to be addressed but need peace, security and well organized societies. These should not be raised in a time when the streets of KP are red with the blood of Pukhtuns. Did the people of KP voted for you to further divide the already divided Pukhtuns? Didn\’t you feel / see Pukhtuns already divided into KP, PATA, FATA, Balochistan and so on? Are you in turn planning to divide Hazara into Pukhtun and non-Pukhtun provinces? Are you not feeling enough ethnic bifurcation in the region and the country? Don\’t you think the situation in Balochistan, south Punjab, Sindh and tribal areas demands to burry such issues and focus on education, inter-lingual and inter-religious harmony to address the rather more important issues of prevalent insecurity, education and economy?
There is a misconception about the unity of Pukhtuns but your victory in the last elections (if they were fair elections) demonstrated that Pukhtuns were united and supported you with one voice. Today, Pukhtuns have shown their unity under the banner of PTI in the very crucial period of their history and it should be considered as the first and last chance for PTI to address the long standing issues. The demands of the common man are very clear and looking towards you with a hope. Pukhtuns are tired of wars, they need to live in peace which needs sincere leadership along with an organized and developed society. There are a number of even more important issues to be addressed appropriately and in such a manner that can lead to a stable Pukhtun province and hence prosperous Pakistan. Use this opportunity to earn the hearts and minds of the people. When everything is in proper order in a country it becomes difficult to bring a change but when everything is out of order in a country, every disorder offers itself as a golden opportunity for a change. Some of the major issues requiring your urgent attention are as follows:
1. The quality of education is deteriorating day by day, every university is offering MPhil / PhD degrees with infrastructures and faculty not even sufficient for undergraduate level. The quality of education was your slogan, now focus upon it. Start from the universities, give them qualified, honest and strong vice chancellors and see the output. If PTI succeeded in raising the quality of education and rooting out of the evil elements from this sector, everything will be in order. This will produce a good quality doctor, a good quality teacher, a good quality policeman ……… and a good quality leader. And when every element of a society will be good then most of the problems will be solved automatically. Your other slogan was uniform education. Pukhtuns are expecting that and I will add that we need an education consistent with our resources so that our science can be used to develop our economy. This will train our youth to transform our resources into marketable products via appropriate education and industrialization. The easy way of improvement in this sector which requires no additional funds is to ensure merit. Merit should be honored at every level from primary to university level and from student enrolment to minister appointment.
2. Follow the funding strategy of Dr. Attaurahman, if there were any loopholes work on that but as whole that policy has improved research. The real target should be identification and elimination of evil elements at every level responsible for the deteriorating standards of education. Simultaneously, visionary and sincere officials should be identified and empowered to bring about the required change. Appointing suited booted relatives cannot bring a change but will increase corruption. If you cannot empower honest educationists, give the allocated to some charity to earn paradise on public funds and earn a place for your name in the Guinness Book, this will be another innovative change, otherwise, this money will be wasted at the hands of corrupt officials. Capacity building of the education department at provincial level to address issues in a visionary and responsible manner is even more important than allocation of funds.
3. As its name suggests, the focus of PTI should revolve around justice and this is the only solution to most of the problems. Hope PTI will not forget their promise to ensure justice at every level. In a country of merit and justice, the survival of a criminal is very difficult which guarantees peace and excellent social services. From Naib Qasid to minister level everyone is well-paid, no additional funding is needed for this, the government just needs them to do their job and eliminate those elements who abuse and help the system abusers.
4. The elders know, there used to be one Magistrate, Surfraz Khan, who used to control the whole traffic and consumables prices throughout our province in 70s. An administrator or government who cannot identify his/her trustworthy and honest subordinates has no right to govern. If you can do this, you and your people will sleep in peace and people will do everything for you and your country. And if you cannot, neither you nor your nation will be able to sleep in peace and in spite of all this, everything will be wrong.
5. Pukhtuns are on the run for ages all over the world for earning their livelihood. They need a government to develop industry in their own region so that they can find jobs and feed their kids. It is really a pity that Pukhtuns cultivate opium but why? The causes for this should be eradicated by giving them alternatives (systematic industrialization). The mineral wealth of the region should be optimally utilized by introducing relevant subjects and tailoring of our curricula and syllabi consistent with our resources and relevant industrialization.
6. Pukhtuns are tired of Kalashancov culture and need to be freed of this culture by improving the law and order situation in the region. This obviously needs geographical modifications in PATA and FATA along with social reforms but after winning the trust of all. For how long will they live under FCR and uncertain situation? Only an elected Pukhtun government can address such issues. A greater part of this has been done already, only implementation is needed.
7. Pukhtuns have talent; have great scientists, doctors and engineers. They are willing to work hard to develop the region and the country but need proper institutions. Collective efforts are needed to improve various levels of education in collaboration with HEC and other organizations to enhance education standards and make it consistent with the modern-day needs. You will have to sit with the people of caliber. Honest and valuable intellectuals will never come to your door-steps, you will have to go to their door-steps and then just watch the change.
This is a very golden chance for changing the traditional attitudes and solving many long standing problems but if this chance is lost, none will believe in your promises in future; don\’t let Pukhtuns loose this hope. A leader without a nation and a nation without a leader is nowhere. Pukhtuns have given you the most they could to empower you and now you have the chance to play your role. Loosing this opportunity will again force people to look towards someone else, so don\’t let Pukhtuns down. Their demand is very simple and easy; they ask for peace, justice and quality education. Let us hope for the better and be optimistic about the future of this land. If you fail, Pukhtuns will have no option in the coming elections, and option-fewer masses can opt for anything. Make as many provinces as you wish but first give the basics to society to enable the people to think in peace.
This article early published with The Frontier Post on March 30, 2014