Creating more provinces!
There are two aspects of this proposal which need to be given serious consideration: One, can Pakistan afford the cost of creating new provinces? Two, will creating new provinces not finally be pitting ethnicity against Pakistanism promoting divisive forces challenging country’s existence? that is will creating new provinces not tear asunder Pakistan’s unity like it did in Yugoslavia in the eighties. As a student of political science and seen ethnicity destroying Yugoslavia there- I witnessed Yugoslavia’s disintegration when I was Ambassador to Yugoslavia for four years. It is not easy to dismiss the apprehension of such a possibility. Ethnicity has already steeped in Pakistan through naming of a province on Ethnic Identity. One should not dismiss these apprehensions without having a national debate on the proposal Discussing this topic, it is necessary to recall what Chief Minister of Balochistan has said, with which I entirely agree, that this scheme can be very dangerous for the country. I would go a step further, it can be so dangerous that to spell out the consequences better be avoided Three- is it not an extreme exaggeration to claim that creating new provinces is required for development of those “backward areas. Could some body recall how utterly backward these areas were when Pakistan came into existence and what they are today, even Balochistan.
I consider it necessary to draw attention to the following points: The examples of creation of new provinces in other countries cited by supporters of this scheme- do they have any relevance in support of the proposal; Will the demand for creation of new provinces stop at creation of Sraiki Province or will it not lead to a number other such demands , where will it stop? Will a series of such demands not be dangerous for the country; Will creation of such new provinces not lead to the bankruptcy of the country? How much expenditure more will be required to run these new provinces? Who will pay for these new provinces? Will it not leas to Pakistan’s bankruptcy?
What are politicians’ real intentions in demanding new provinces? They have citing examples from India, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan- and even France- thinking that their case for creating several new provinces in Pakistan will be strengthened But obviously they do not know what is a “province” in a federal state and what it is in a unitary state. In federal system –which Pakistan is- a “province” has a Governor, Cabinet, a Provincial Assembly, a Government paraphernalia, such as a Secretariat etc. In unitary system administrative units even if called Province have nothing more than an Administrator even if the Administrator is called a governor like in Turkey “Willayat” whose head is Wali but he is merely an administrative head of the “wilayat” or district. He does not have a Chief Minister a cabinet and its own Legislative Assembly and its Members, etc. Same is the case with Afghanistan , Iran and France .I had been what is called Deputy Ambassador in Turkey for three years, and in France for one year to learn French as a Foreign Service Probationer .My knowledge is not based on superficial hear say that a Provence in France is the same thing as Province in Pakistan Only India is a Federal State and its ‘States’ are similar to Pakistan’s Provinces. Javed Hashmi an MNA from Multan presented India’s example which added many new provinces to its structure after Independence. His reasoning is faulty as it is based on lack of knowledge of increase in India’s area after independence by one third of what used to be British India I do not correctly recall the number of India’s provinces before independence but my recollect is that there were 16 provinces in British India including three Chief Commissioners provinces. Prior to 1947- there was a Princely India of Indian native state about one third in area to India a whole. After these states acceded to India and were merged in India, India increased in size by one third of “India” as a whole. Out of this addition , in post Independent new India, many new provinces were created from the added territory. In India the population of only Utter Pradish is more than the entire population of whole of Pakistan. One should study the facts before making claims on superficial similarities. He omits to take note that after India got new one third part of Princely India THEN the enlarged India made new states or provinces. It so happens that I was on post as a junior diplomat in New Delhi when the new states were created. They were of course made on linguistic basis except Punjab for which the Sikhs were demanding Punjabi Suba. Government of India feared that Punjabi Suba was another veiled name for Sikhistan. And therefore turned down the proposal to name it as Punjabi Suba and divided into three States (on two of which my father-in-law has been the Governor, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab). It requires some reading and research before one should make assertions lest they are proved hollow, as they are in this case. Any way India is five times bigger than Pakistan in area. Naturally it would have far more provinces than Pakistan.
India is based on geographic nationalism, in Pakistan’s case ethnicity is anti-thesis of Pakistan‘s nationalism. I can say so with confidence as I was in student leadership of Pakistan Movement in Aligarh University and Delhi University. With due apologies, it seems that PPP is promoting ethnicity the first manifestation of which was creation of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, in which Nawaz Sharif joined hands. If the move to make new provinces catches roots, Pakistan would be de novo decimated into several petty ethnic provinces. Every frog will raise its paw and ask to put naals on it as is th saying in Urdu. A proposal has been made that Punjab should be divided into three/four provinces. Then there should be at least two provinces in Balochistan, in Sarhad there should be a Hazara Province also, another province of Bahawalpur also , and if Bahawalpur then Kalat and other Balochi states may also demand that they should be made new provinces, and if old extinct states are revived then the old ruling houses would demand to be restored, in other words Waderaism will return with a vengeance
Surely, if the “ new provinces” are asked to raise the funds locally they will find the Governor would have to live in own house, use his own car, etc. The worthy TV anchors perhaps take for granted that that financing so many new provinces is no problem? Why do they not ask some ex finance Secretary who have had the experience of Budget making from where such grandiose schemes be financed ? Any body who thinks that the question of financing new provinces is a minor problem or irrelevant matter is being highly unrealistic.
In small perspective, the demand for Saraiki Province is mainly to cut Punjab to size .The question is that if PPP really thinks that creation of new provinces will make Pakistan stronger then why Sind should not be divided into two or three provinces , on the lines of the three “Divisions” which existed even during early days of Pakistan There are only two possible motives for this scheme: To create cushy jobs for sons of the waderas in the Saraiki belt, Potohar, etc, and to deny Punjab the major part it plays in Pakistan politics and in the immediate future to cut Nawaz Sharif to size . But this scheme financially is a pipe dream and in essence destructive to Pakistan’s solidarity. It will be worst than creating a Bangla Desh and destructive to Pakistan’s unity. It will breed virulent ethnicity. This is a scheme fraught with grave consequences. After such detailed analysis of the scheme to create new provinces, it will be seen that the proposal would damage Pakistan eventually and not just Nawaz Sharif. Personal politics should not be taken to the extent of destroying the country.