Written By Shehroz Shaikh
Creation of new provinces in Pakistan is necessity as well as a popular demand. The issue, at the same time, brings political controversies and raises questions about its impacts on the national unity thus blurring the entire scheme.
2. Voices and Movements for the Creation of New Provinces in Pakistan
– Voice for Creating Saraiki Province in Punjab
– Demand of Creating Mohajir Province in Sindh
– Demand for Creating Pashtun Province in Baluchistan
– Hazara Province Demand in Khyber Pakhtunhawa
3. How Creation of New Provinces can Integrate Pakistan?
– Smaller provinces – Better Administration
– Better administration – National Cohesion
– Giving the People their Territorial Recognition
4. How Creation of New Provinces can Disintegrate Pakistan?
– Politicizing the Issue for Politically motivated objectives
– Creating new provinces on the base of ethnicities
– Resurgence of provincialism
– Divergent provincial priorities
5. The Middle Way
Creation of new provinces should be on administrative grounds not ethnic basis
Creation of new provinces remains an important subject of politics in a developing country which has limited available resources. Pakistan is no exception in this regard. The country has federal structure of government in which there is a central government and several provincial government depending upon the number of provices. Pakistan is home of four major provinces, one sub-autonomous state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and an administrative unit of Gilgit Baltistan which is not a full province yet.
Amid the said scenario, there are demands for the creation of new provinces in Pakistan. These demands are based more on ethnic outlooks rather than political and administrative grounds. The demand for new provinces in Pakistan becomes apparent in the form of several movements destines to attain provincial autonomy.
Creation of new provinces brings several positive as well as negative impacts on the state’s health. In Pakistan the creation is however more politicized matter thus blurring the distinct pros and cons of creating new provinces. This further brings questions over the integration of Pakistan with the creation of new provinces as the political parties here lack a unanimous verdict.
Before knowing about the implications of creating new provinces on Pakistan’s integration, it’s wise to learn about the major movements demanding new provinces in the country. First comes the demand for creation of a new province in the Southern part of the Punjab. This part of the Punjab is dominated by Saraiki speaking people who recognize themselves as a distinct ethnic group. But the demand of this Saraiki Province is not mere on the ethnic grounds. Backwardness and low-development levels in the Southern Punjab leads to the demand of this province. Further, people of Southern Punjab find it difficult to reach the Provincial capital city of Lahore for an administrative task. This demand finds its grip strengthened arguing that most of the budget of the Punjab province is spent on central areas of the province thus depriving them of their due right.
Second important demand comes from the Muhajir Community of Karachi. The community asks for the upgradation of Karachi into a separate province. Karachi is the provincial capital of the Sindh Province. Making it a new province as demanded would be purely ethnic step.
Third is the demand of creating Pashtun Province in Baluchistan. Being the largest area of Pakistan, Baluchistan is the house of Balochs mostly. Some Northern part of this province is dominated by the Pashtuns who want a separate province there.
Fourth demand of creating a new province sought a vociferous voice recently after the name of NWFP was changed into KPK Province. It is the Hazara community of the KPK province that demands for creation of a new Hazara Province in KPK. This demand is also on ethnic basis as the Hazara community distinguishes itself from the Pashtuns of the KPK.
Under the light of the said demands, the implications of creating new provinces on Pakistan’s integration can be evaluated in the shape of the pros and cons of taking such a step. Creating new provinces in Pakistan can integrate the country by infusing a sense of confidence in the minds of Siraiki, Pashtun, Muhajir, and Hazarans communities of the country. This can prevent them from taking any drastic steps. Secondly, to demand autonomous administrative provinces is not an unconstitutional thing. They can forward their reservations over the unjust distribution of provincial budgets within various areas of a province. Thus giving them the autonomous provinces can bring them into mainstream national politics.
Another important implication of creating new provinces on the national integration will come in shape of self-rule. When the people of these areas will be allowed to exercise provincial autonomy thus ruling themselves, they can better decide their lives keeping in view their resources and needs. This thing will keep them busy in healthy local politics and prevent sedition.
Thirdly, creating new provinces can ensure better administration. It is mostly difficult to administer a large province. Thus dividing it into two or more smaller provinces can help in administering it well. This also brings fortune to the people of that area without transmission of resources and revenue to the other autonomous parts of the province.
Fourthly, the creation of new provinces strengthens national integration by bringing welfare to the state as a whole. When a province or country is welfare, it will surely add to the strength of the state.
Contrary to the positive implications of creating new provinces on Pakistan, there are certain abnormalities that are attributed with taking such a step. In general creation of new provinces is a constitutional step which in no way can disintegrate a country. A nation’s integration begins to deteriorate when the issue about the creation of new provinces is politicized. When the political parties begin to measure the creation of new provinces according to their peculiar interests, several controversies emerge. Take example of the behavior of Pakistan’s political parties on the issue of new provinces. Pakistan People’s Party supports the voice for Siraiki province to curb the influence of Pakistan Muslim League (N) in Punjab. To counter this move, the latter political party supports the Muhajir community in making Karachi a province to contain the influence of Pakistan People’s Party in Sindh. Thus, this sort of politics keeps on rendering the issues controversial.
Pakistan’s integration will be adversely impacted by the creation of new provinces in case the provinces are created on ethnic lines. A new province is meant to be created on administrative basis. It is when done in order to favor an ethnic group, the national integration faces a blow.
New provinces if created in Pakistan can weaken the country’s integration if provincialism overwhelms the political scene. If the people of a province pledge to vote only the political party of that province, it will annihilate national cohesion. In the past, the people of Bengal voted for Awami Muslim League and the Peoples Party won in West Pakistan. This later proved to be of fatal consequence when the politico-lingual gaps between the two became so wide that East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan. This sort of provincialism has caused considerable damage to national unity in the past.
To cope with all such circumstances in Pakistan, a middle way can be adopted. New provinces shall not be created as a first resort but this is conditioned with the pledge to administer the already existing provinces with just policies for all areas. In case it becomes inevitable to create a new province, it should be in no way on the ethnic lines. This can lead to dire consequences and severe implications on national integration.
In compact, the creation of new provinces can be fruitful if not based on ethnic lines and not subject to abnormal politicization of the issues. Pakistan integration shall be kept prior before devising any such plan.
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