Original Articles

Pukhtunkhwa: The Land of Pashtuns – by Mukhtar Ali Abazai


Recent remarks by the PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and PML-Q about renaming of the province have once again generated controversy. Abaseen, Khyber and Hazara Pukhtunkhwa? What does it mean? A joke with millions of Pukhtoons?

Leaders and workers from various political parties and members from civil society in their conversations with various media outlets have termed the statement of the PML-N chief and PML-Q against democratic principles, saying, the former prime minister and former federal minister wanted to impose the will of the minority on the majority.

The resolution recommending renaming NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa had been adopted by the Provincial Assembly three times, but analysts pointed out that the PML-N still wants a consensus, which has never been done in the past for changing the names of any province or city. “Only two MPAs had opposed Pakhtunkhwa in the 82-member provincial assembly,” Idrees Kamal, convener of Peace Movement in the province, said. “What does that mean when 80 out of the total 82 members want the name Pakhtunkhwa,” he argued. He said the PML-N despite claiming to be following the politics of principles was opposed to this majority decision.

Major political parties including Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), People’s Party (Sherpao) and almost all the independents have been supporting renaming the NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa, while PML-N and some within the PML-Q were opposing it. The total strength of the pro-Pakhtunkhwa parties in the 124-member NWFP Assembly is 90 while that of the anti-Pakhtunkhwa — both the PML-N and PML-Q — is 15.

“We don’t know as to why the rulers were not accepting the unanimous demands of our elected assembly and insisting on creating consensus or holding referendum on the issue,” said a senior ANP activist, adding whether the name of Faisalabad had been adopted with consensus.

Known writer Dr Sher Zaman Taizai said majority of the people in Hazara, including tribes like Tareen, Tanoly, Niazi, Lodhis, Jadoon and Swati were Pakhtuns by birth, but most of had forgotten Pashto. the same case is in D.I Khan but lack of awareness to recognise these tribes themselves pashtun.

The ANP activists opposed the renaming of NWFP as Abaseen or Khyber saying it were the names of a river and a mountain pass and failed to reflect the Pakhtuns’ identity. The PML-N MPA Shazia Aurangzeb on the other hand claims her party was following principled politics instead of gaining power or cheap popularity. The ANP, she said, was interested in changing name instead of solving people’s problems and concentrating on issues. “We support renaming of NWFP, but one party cannot be given this right,” she said suggesting changing of the name with consensus.

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Nadir Ali Dirojay Pukhtunyar

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  • The failure of the Pakistan state to allow room for the natural ethno-linguistic defferences and their development has led it to become a major internal contradiction of the state. The unreasonable stand of Punjabi chauvinist clique on the “Pukhtunkhwa” issue is condemnable. All political parties in Pukhtunkhwa, the PPP, ANP, PkMAP, JUI, PPP-S are supporting the re-naming of “Pukhtunkhwa”.