The dangers of new provinces

The parliament  approved the 18th Amendment, but it has inadvertently opened a Pandora’s box of issues; one of which is the creation of new provinces in the country. After a new debate over the issue was initiated, major political forces all clamoured in favour of new provinces, each toting their own agenda.
To say nothing of the Seraiki belt or Hazara, even cities and areas like Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Malakand, Bannu, Hyderabad, Karachi, Loralai and Gwadar would vote with huge majorities for being made capital cities of new provinces. Would such a decision be acceptable to the country?



by Rustam Shah Mohmand

 In a country with massive illiteracy coupled, with virtual non-existence of institutions, it is easy to camouflage motives, dodge the electorate, divert attention from the pressing issues of security, lawlessness and economic deprivation, and the daily humiliations that the vast majority of Pakistanis have to endure. The electorate, in a display of disregard for candidates’ moral credentials, voted the same politicians into office who were even proved to have produced fake degrees for meeting the eligibility criterion for running for Assemblies.
In such a situation if reference is made to the people of a particular area or region, seeking their views on the creation of a new province for them, there would be an overwhelming positive response to the proposal. 

To say nothing of the Seraiki belt or Hazara, even cities and areas like Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Malakand, Bannu, Hyderabad, Karachi, Loralai and Gwadar would vote with huge majorities for being made capital cities of new provinces. Would such a decision be acceptable to the country?

Nations do not decide to create new administrative units by making reference to ethnicities. Such decisions are taken in a dispassionate manner taking into account a host of factors that include the likely benefits, the cost, the implications for a nation’s stability, long-term consequences in terms of linguistic or communal balance and harmony.

In neighbouring India a commission was appointed to study and recommend whether a new province should be created. The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has a population that is more than the entire population of Pakistan. In countries like Japan and Switzerland administrative units may be large in number, but their systems of administration do not correspond to the system that we have. A province in our system would have a governor, a chief minister, an elected assembly, a high court, and the paraphernalia that goes with a province. That is one aspect of the issue. 

The creation of more provinces in our system is likely to follow an ethnic trajectory. Such a course would inevitably deepen and aggravate the existing tensions, prejudices that would undercut the fragile foundations of a state to which a death blow was delivered on Dec 16, 1971, with the separation, after a bloody rebellion, of what was East Pakistan.

Would Karachi lag far behind? It is inconceivable that voices for converting the port city into a separate province would not be raised. 

The ruling political party has raised the issue because of its popular appeal. Such an emotive issue would distract attention completely from the myriad complex problems that the country and its people confront every day. But this is difficult to explain to the gullible public.

It is time for the civil society and the media to help spread awareness and explain the many hazards and perils that would lie ahead if new provinces are created. The country was dismembered once in 1971. We should not be heading towards a second dismemberment of Pakistan.

The writer Rustam Shah Mohmand is specialist of Afghanistan and Central Asian affairs and a renowned security analyst. He has served as High Commissioner of Pakistan to Afghanistan and has held position of Chief Commissioner Refugees for around ten years. 
Source, Title image
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11 replies to “The dangers of new provinces

  1. I like this administrative division of Pakistan, it should have been done long ago. The ethnic leaders shall soon get lost. Then the common people will get into the education cycle.

  2. When partners in any venture feel they are being neglected and their counterparts are insensitive to their needs, the process of dissolution of the union starts. In its own defence, the major partner then proceeds to blame the others for a lack of ‘patriotism’, ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel’ (to quote Samuel Johnson).

    We want Saraiki Province to protect our resources and IDENTITY and last but not the least to be the master of our own destiny and also as equal partners in the federation.

  3. Pingback: More subas? — I

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