Feasibility of New Provinces in Pakistan_ The Debate

The controversy about the formation of new provinces in Pakistan is gaining popularity among political parties. The unification of Fata and KP has heightened the controversy about the establishment of new provinces. The establishment of Hazara and Seraiki provinces, the partitioning of Baluchistan’s Pashtoon areas, and combining them with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, the separation of Sindh province, and the creation of Karachi as a separate federal entity are among the demands.

Pakistan is experiencing a transitional moment in its past, owing to its experimenting with a modern model of federalism enshrined in the 18th Amendment. While the paradigm of center-province relations in the 1956, 1962, and 1973 constitutions stayed strongly centrist and unitary, the PPP-led government tried to redefine and redesign the model of center-province relations through the 18th Amendment. The government has engendered a new dialogue to step past General Pervez Musharraf’s nationalist, but authoritarian and centrist devolution scheme to a more novel approach in which provinces are granted accountability for handling what was formerly an exclusive realm of the federal government.

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This reorientation of center-province ties allows for a fascinating study since the Centre is now encouraging provinces to claim their individuality and power, rather than refusing them as has been the case in Pakistan’s past. In this context, Pakistan’s evolving political outlook and incentive framework have provided for the proliferation of new ethnicities that were previously unknown. As soon as the National Assembly ratified the 18th Amendment, Hazara and Seraiki nationalism burst out, demanding the right to be recognized as a separate province.

The Debate

With the election of a new government and the adoption of the 18th Amendment in 2010, the desire for further regions and regional sovereignty resurfaced. When Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced that his government was prepared to create a new province in the Seraiki belt, the dream of establishing a new province was seen as becoming a reality in the Seraiki-speaking region. “Creating new provinces was the need of the hour,” Gilani said, “and if a Saraiki province was not established during the time of a Saraiki-speaking prime minister, when, if ever, would it happen?” (Editorial, Daily Hours, 5 January 2012), the problem of new provinces Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, the Punjab Governor, also claimed that the long-deprived region of southern Punjab must be granted its fair share. The call for new provinces has culminated in an alliance between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PMLQ), which is calling for the development of Southern Punjab and Hazara provinces, respectively. However, in Punjab, where the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is in force, this element of the political discussion has been regarded as a negotiating weapon by the PPP. (The drive for Seraiki province gains traction Dawn, 3 August 2011).

The Hazara Province Movement Committee (HPMC), which calls for the formation of a Hazara province, has made similar demands. The establishment of the Hazara province is also a top priority for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supports the development of new provinces Hazara and Seraiki, which they claim would help to remove divisions. This has triggered a schism between the Awami National Party (ANP) and the MQM, as ANP representatives claim this is little more than a political stunt by the MQM, which has zero representation in both Pakhtunkhwa and Hazara provincial assemblies.

The concern is whether provinces should be formed centered on administrative or ethnolinguistic lines. “New provinces, if formed, would in effect be new ‘federating units,’ reflecting social, cultural, linguistic, and historical principles as well as the expectations of their respective populations in the federation of Pakistan,” Mazar Arif writes. This is in addition to the legally secured cultural and linguistic privileges. (Dawn, 15 August 2011; Seraiki Province Debate).

Dr. Tariq Rahman, who supports federation centered on ethnolinguistic, says it would “reduce ethnic tension, keep Punjab from dominating the smaller federating units, strengthen administration, ensure that citizens do not have to move long distances to get justice and give all units a stake in the system.” (Dawn, 9 July 2009, “Linguistics and Modern Provinces”).

Many citizens have, though, voiced their concerns. According to Salem Safi, separating provinces based on race will further destabilize the situation. Adopting this requirement would cause Baluchistan to insist that certain places presently under Sindh and Punjab’s administrative jurisdiction be considered integral parts of the province. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would battle tooth and nail to take possession of Baluchistan’s western areas. Since the bulk of the Hindko-speaking tribes there are ethnic Pakhtuns, such reorganization would not give Hazaras the status of a separate province. A linguistic division would also be troublesome since no single language unit may be proclaimed in any section of the world. (The News International, April 26, 2010; Make new provinces).

Parties such as the ANP, PML-N, and the army endorse the formation of new provinces on an administrative basis constitutionally and democratically, using an equitable formula based on population, location, capital, sources of income, and so on. The opposition leaders agree that the provinces should not be formed as a consequence of political wrangling in which parties attempt to steer popular interest away from problems such as gas shortages, power outages, and price increases. The formation of new provinces is opposed by Islamic and Sindhi nationalists. This is because the former claims that, amid the financial crisis, the country’s separation should be put aside, while the latter believes that MQM is attempting to split Sindh by flexing its muscles in the interiors despite acquiring substantial control in urban areas.

Two Third Majorities

Rather than becoming a cynical stunt for the referendum, the formation of new provinces should take into account the interests of the citizens. Proponents of province forming should therefore be mindful of Clause 239 (4) of the constitution, which specifies that “no bill to change the constitution that would have the effect of modifying the boundaries of a province can be submitted to the president for assent until it has been approved by the provincial assembly of that province by a two-thirds vote.” To pass muster, it must obtain a two-thirds vote in both houses of parliament.” (Editorial, Daily Hours, 5 January 2012, the problem of new provinces.) The carving out of provinces is such a critical matter that all political parties and civic society must be deeply engaged.

Conclusion

To summarize, I will add my opinion that Pakistan is a developing country and today our government is in the struggle. At that point talking about more provinces will ignite and intensified the situation as already the state is facing a lot of criticism. Moreover, the above debate will clear your mind that this is not the time for more provinces. Although, it is good in favor of the state to have more province because today power is concentrated in four provinces that can’t give you the best out-put. In this manner, the Provincial Government’s whole focus concentrated on some areas while depriving others in a province. If, we have more provinces on an administrative basis constitutionally and democratically, using an equitable formula based on population, location, sources of income, and so on, and then they can manage those areas in the best way. Every province will have its income and can use it productively.

By bhaitv

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