PML-N ‘enemy’ of Pushtuns: Says ANP Leader

No justification for holding referendum on NWFP renaming: ANP

* Party president says PML-N ‘enemy’ of Pushtuns

By Zakir Hassnain

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) said on Wednesday there was no justification for holding a referendum on the NWFP renaming issue as demanded by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and thus the ANP rejected it, saying only the constitutional committee of the parliament could decide the issue.

The ANP said the Nawaz League’s criticism of the ANP and its attitude towards Pakhtuns was condemnable. “Nawaz League is the enemy of Pakhtuns and still following the policies of Ranjeet Singh,” said ANP Provincial President Afrasiab Khattak while addressing a press conference along with party leaders Arbab Tahir Khalil, Arbab Najeebullah, Arbab Tajuddin and others.

Khattak said the renaming of the province was an important issue and the provincial assembly had already unanimously passed a resolution demanding the province be renamed Pakhtunkhwa.

The ANP leader said the issue was under consideration in the parliament’s constitutional committee working for constitutional reforms. However, he added, the PML-N leaders made the issue public instead of solving it within the constitutional committee and started giving public statements on issue.

Khattak said NWFP, FATA and PATA were no names. “It’s only Pakhtunkhwa but attempts are being made to make it controversial,” he said. Khattak said the PML-N made a demand for a referendum on the issue. “I propose referendums be also held on the name issue in Punjab and Sindh as only one language is not spoken in a province,” he said. He said there are a large number of Seraiki speaking people in Punjab and therefore referendum should also be held there.

Khattak said no referendum was held when Lyallpur was renamed to Faisalabad and Montgomery to Sahiwal.

The ANP leader said the largest political parties had also acknowledged the name Pakhtunkhwa and the name is no longer controversial. Khattak said the people of the province supporting the Nawaz League should review their party affiliation as “PML-N is the enemy of Pakhtuns.” He said the name Pakhtunkhwa was the demand of the people of the province.

Khattak said the name Afghania was also acceptable as it was given to this region by the founders of Pakistan. The ANP leader said Abasin was the name of a river and Khyber the name of an area and therefore could not be accepted as name of the province.

“We can only accept Pakhtunkhwa or Afghania,” he said. Khattak said the ANP is cooperating with the parliament’s constitutional committee and wants to solve the problem within this constitutional body. “And if it could not solve the issue, we’ll stick to our stand and demand,” said the ANP provincial president.

Comments by M. Waqar

I was shocked to read some news reports and statements of PML(N) leaders over the name Pakhtunkhwa and it seems like they are generating new issue of hate and divide in this province. Let’s not make it a political issue. One should not politicize an issue for own interest.I see no reason for denying Pukhtoons the legitimate name of their province on the grounds that this will increase ethnic tension.

On the contrary, if anything, it will defuse the existing tension. Let’s not forget what happened to East Pakistan when West Pakistan denied them their right of Bengali language. The problem is Pakistani politicians never learn from history, these politicians need to understand that Pakistan’s imposition of Urdu on East Pakistan was a mistake. It seems like some opportunist politicians of PML(N) in the province are trying to create political tension over Pakhtunkhwa. People in Pakhtunkhwa wants to be recognized as a nationality in their own right and for this they want their living place to be given their name Pakhtunkhwa.

Why can Punjabis have Punjab, Sindhis Sindh, Baluchis Balochistan, but Pakhtuns can’t have Pakhtoonkhwa? why Pakhtoon are being treated like occupied Palestine who will breakaway at the first chance.? and if do decide to break off, trust me with all its might, Pakistan can’t prevent that.

Pakistan couldn’t beat Bengalis into submission and it can never force Pakhtuns into submission. Its stupid that some people who consider themselves super patriotic imply that Pakhtuns are any less patriotic than themselves. Let me remind those self-declared super Pakistanis that Punjab did not have any option except joining Pakistan. Punjab had to join Pakistan. But we Pakhtuns had a choice to join our brothers in Afghanistan, with whom we share not only our ancestry but our culture, our history, our tradition, and our language, but Pakhtuns decided to stay with Pakistan. How can someone from Punjab or Sindh or any other part of Pakistan give us a lecture on patriotism? I think these people are the one who needs a lesson in patriotism, because by suppressing minorities right and denying them their identity they are weakening Pakistan NOT Pakhtuns.

Its tragic that Pakistani politicians did NOT learn any lesson from history. Bengalis were at the forefront in the struggle for Pakistan but when Pakistan suppressed them and denied them their rights and their identity what happened? We all know the end result. By calling Bengalis traitors because they demanded their rights they were converted into traitors. Alas we could learn from history because if we don’t, history is doomed to repeat itself. Acceptance of history is a good sign, no wonder, but learning no lesson from it is unforgivable.

Please someone help me to understand how renaming NWFP is gonna break Pakistan or divide people in this province? And please don’t give me the crap about patriotism and Islamic unity. Whats wrong with Pakhtuns having their identity in Pakistan like Punjabis, Sindhis, and Balochis? It’s the politicians who are making mess over the name not the people living in this province. Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan are border provinces too why they are not called, east-south, north-east or south-west provinces why these provinces are called with identity of race residing inside that territory? We are unanimous on one thing that people from this province are all pathan if all are not Pashtun. So please take back the British name and give us our own name.

The usage of Pakhtunkhwa in Pakhto poetry dates back to the middle ages. The word is a combination of two words – that is Pakhtun and Khwa. Pakhtun or Pashtun is a noun while Khwa means side. Culturally there is no doubt that the land was called Pakhtunkhwa in Pushtu literature since 15th century .The word Pakhtunkhwa was also used in the modern poetry by contemporary poets like Qalandar Momand (1930-2003) long before it was suggested as the nomenclature for the NWFP.

The name NWFP is certainly a misnomer today since it does not satisfy the aspirations of the people of the province. Three of the four provinces the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, got their own identity either through their environment or inhabitants. But the NWFP has been named neither after the historical and cultural background of the inhabitants nor derived its name from environment. Since the name (NWFP) does not reflect the true ethnic identity of its inhabitants, therefore a demand for its change is a logical consequence but unfortunately the matter has turned into a controversial issue again by so-called politicians. Those opposing the word Pakhtunkhwa argue that the name will not represent non Pashto speaking population of the province.

The argument is unjustified and impractical. There is hardly any country in the world which does not have ethnic minorities. Even in Pakistan; Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan have large number of people who do not speak the language their names ostensibly suggest.

The 74 percent population of NWFP speaks Pashto as mother language in present day NWFP and the proportion will greatly increase when FATA will ultimately be merged in the province, choosing a proper name for the province is the fundamental right of its residents. It would help strengthen the federation besides removing the sense of deprivation among people of the smallest province of the country. It is time that politicians belonging to different factions of Muslim League too come out of their mindset and start objectively treating the demands the smaller provinces. It will help us build a stronger and more vibrant federation. Instead of debating again and again over this issue, politicians are wasting their time, they should either spend their time on development of this province or quit politics. There is no need to challenge the Pakhtunkhwa issue as it has been passed with overwhelming majority in the provincial assembly, members of this assembly should discuss how to solve the problems in this province. Renaming the NWFP to Pakhtunkhwa has a long political history in Pakistan.

Pakhtuns and nationalist groups, which are passionate about naming their inhabited land after their identity as Pakhtuns, have been demanding change in the province’s name for decades. But a number of political groups and opportunist politicians are not in favour of calling NW FP as Pakhtunkhwa and they are trying to divide people. These members of assembly should be discussing creating jobs, hiring police officers, opening new schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and providing clean water and electricity to their voters and keeping province safe, rid Province of violence and terror, generate productive employment for youth, provide education, healthcare, and bring progress to the doorstep of workers, farmers and small businesses, elimination of child labour etc . These are the issues for which people have elected these assembly members to solve.