Pakhtunkhwa Times

A case for Pakhtunkhwa

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on January 21, 2009

A case for Pakhtunkhwa

A case for Pakhtunkhwa
Farman Kakar
The age-old struggle for having a Pakhtunkhwa province made a great leap forward after the February 18 elections. It achieved a pitch of intensity and fervour after the PPP-led coalition in the Centre, conspicuous by the presence of ANP, the flag-bearer of Pakhtun nationalism, pledged to rename NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa. Always denied to them it has been a long-standing demand of the pakhtuns of the NWFP to have a province by the name of Pakhtunistan, Afghania or Pakhtunkhwa. There has been a never-ending paranoia among the Punjabi feudal-cum-politicians and the Punjabi intelligentsia at large that Pakhtunistan, Afghania or Pakhtunkhwa smacked of an independent body politic, viz the state. The genesis of their argument goes back to the inception of the country’s independence in 1947. Given the demise of the British colonial edifice in the Indian sub-continent the retreating British colonial authority left the teeming millions of Indian sub-continent with two options of either joining India or Pakistan. Khan Brothers, the flag-bearers of Pakhtun nationalism, while not reconciling with the two choices asked for a third option to be given to those who yarned for an independent entity. Denied to them the third option of being independent and after Pakistan became an avoidable reality, the pragmatist khan Brothers now reconciled themselves to the changed scenario. The former “Red Shirt” movement underwent a drastic transformation. Receding into the background, the independence option got itself replaced by a more reconciliatory approach of living within the Pakistani federation with maximum provincial autonomy given to the federating units as enshrined by the founding document of the country, Pakistan resolution. The story has yet another dimension as well; the Afghanistan factor. After it became crystal clear that the British would withdraw from the Indian sub-continent, the Afghan authorities, while deriving from history and premising their arguments on cultural grounds set forth that areas lost to the British India under the Durand Line agreement clinched on Nov 1893 were to be returned to Afghanistan. The Afghan argument ran on certain grounds both cultural and historical. Firstly, Pakhtuns straddled both sides across the Durand Line. Secondly, the popular cliché that Afghanistan was bound to respect Durand Line agreement come to an end after the British withdrawal as the agreement fell into disrepute because it was sealed with the British India and not Pakistan. Thirdly, since in the span of history the areas lost under the aforesaid agreement constituted the once great Durrani Empire, Afghanistan was thus entitled to have them back as the otherwise would entail the negation of the Afghans’ this right. It is in this context that the Punjabis feudal-cum-politicians and intelligentsia are cynical of Pakhtuns’ nationalist much enshrined goal of having a Pakhtunkhwa province despite the fact that the annals of history do not prove that khan Brothers, by any way, were in cahoots with Afghan authorities. The pertinent questions here are, should Pakhtuns have Pakhtunkhwa province? Is such a course of action viable for the fledgling status of the country? Put differently will the Pakhtuns of Pakhtunkhawa desert the Pakistani federation one day. No doubt Pakhtuns, while facing the identity crisis, have de facto recognition of being one of the four major ethnic communities residing the country. The Pakhtunkhwa province will just entitle them to a de jure status. The arguments that are put forward against Pakhtunkhwa province are almost two-fold. First after Pakhtuns’ de fecto status changes into de jure then Pakhtunkhwa is destined to desert Pakistan one day and possibly will either declare as an independent entity or will join Afghanistan. Since NWFP is also home to other ethnic groups, Pakhtunkhwa will jeopardize their identity. This argument suffers from a serious flaw. If elsewhere the benchmark is one of majority principle then why, when it comes to Pakhtuns, in the context of Pakhtunkhwa it is not the majority principle but absolute one. Despite being home to teeming millions of Seraiki speaking community if Punjabis have Punjab; Sindhis have Sindh with millions of other ethnic groups; Baloch have Balochistan despite having a Pakhtun population of nearly equal numerical strength as that of Balochs, then why NWFP cannot be Pakhtunkhwa on the similar grounds of the majority principle. Will Pakhtunkhwa one day desert the Pakistani federation? This is a common view held by majority of the Punjabi feudal-cum-politicians and intelligentsia that Pakhtuns will one day embark upon such an ambitious plan. For those who hold such an opinion are ignorance of the history is bliss. 1970 were the declining days of the intensity and fervour of Pakhtuns nationalistic sentiments. The question is worth investigation. Being the highly mobilized community the Pakhtuns were developing major stakes in the country. They were major recruits in the army, bureaucracy and started spreading elsewhere in the rest of the country in search of jobs. To this intra-immigration Karachi became the best accommodating place. Now the Pakhtuns can be seen in almost all the major cities of the country inter alia Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi. Given this factor whereby the said community is one of the major stakeholders in the country, independence cannot be a viable option for it. It is not that Punjabis are more patriotic to Pakistan than other communities but because of the fact that this community is the biggest stakeholder and in the event the country’s disintegration they will be the one who will lose the most. So a pragmatic solution would entail the assigning of Pakhtunkhwa to the people of NWFP as this will further bring the Pakhtuns to the mainstream and hence the major stakeholders. Given the country’s very precarious and dismal state of affairs, evident especially by the growing fog of war across the Durand Line, accepting the de jure status of Pakhtun of NWFP will be a great leap forward in strengthening the bond of fraternity in the country. An exercise of de javu will further exacerbate the already aggravated situation. It is a very high time whereby an exercise in futility is to be avoided at all cost as the festering wound of Pakhtuns of FATA will not fall short of lighting a prairie fire. Thus, for the sake of national interest the forces of status quo should place a high value on the people’s desire for change. farman_qau08@yahoo.com

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