By Hussain Raza.
Pakistan consists of eight administrative units namely Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). Among them, FATA is being deprived to become province, and GB and AJK are provisional administrative units with status of autonomous and disputed territories whose complete integration with Pakistan is subject to the final resolution of Kashmir issue.
According to the systematic, egalitarian, administrative, ethno-linguistic, geographic, strategic and political climate perspectives, the dissolution of existing administrative units and formation of new administrative units with proper provincial status is becoming an inevitable need for Pakistan which rises on objective demand of sociopolitical and geopolitical scenarios of the country.
Pakistan needs to have at least Thirty Provinces instead of current Four Provinces
The states with approximately same area as Pakistan and less than half of its population have much more administrative units at their disposal. For example, Turkey has 81 provinces for 74.93 million population, Iran has 31 provinces for 77.45 million population whereas Afghanistan has 34 provinces for 30.55 million population.
Even states which are very small in size and very less in population also have more provinces than Pakistan. For example, Sri Lanka has 9 provinces for 20.48 million population, Nepal has 7 provinces for 27.8 million population and Jordan has 12 provinces for 6.45 million population. Thus, the “Compare and Contrast Case Study” of states in regard to Pakistan shows it is very logical that Pakistan requires about thirty provinces.
Formation of new provinces is essential for efficiency in any form of government
In Pakistan, due to diverse sociopolitical and geopolitical circumstances, to run the state business, unitary, federal and presidential or parliamentary, any system which is installed will be effective for all identities only when the formation of new provinces is materialized. Even the experience of electoral systems like current “Constituency System” and mostly recommended in non-academic debates “Proportional Representation System” will also be effective with the formation of new provinces, otherwise the power will accumulate in Punjab. Currently, Pakistan has federal system by constitution, but it is not a federation by practice.
Except Punjab, all provinces have grievances against Centre and Punjab. Any political party can get simple majority in National Assembly if it gets clean sweep in Punjab. Parliamentary System is also accumulating the wealth and power like presidential system in the most populous province Punjab. Therefore, after permanent democratic evolution to make Pakistan a sustainable and capable federation, current provinces should be undersized and divided into more provinces. New provinces should be about thirty in numbers, they should not be highly dependent on any one or two provinces, and new provinces should not have huge differences in population density, specially in the form of absolute populous majority of a single province.
In current scenario of asymmetric administrative units, state does not provide level playing field. Therefore, Punjab has become more hegemonic than Centre. It has enough potential to challenge the writ of Centre in federal jurisdiction of policy-making and legislation. But other small administrative units Sindh, KPK, Baluchistan and FATA are failing to achieve their parity based share from federalism. Meanwhile, federation instead to be considered as a tool of “Patriotic Nationalism”, is considered as a tool of “Punjab’s Chauvinism”.
In this political “Power Vacuum” created by hegemony of Punjab and subjugation of the Centre, military has become a “Binding Factor” of federal units than the Fruits of Federation. Military in itself is also blamed as a structural phenomenon of Punjab’s power because Punjabis have majority representation in it. Therefore, the political hegemony and economic prosperity of Punjab is perceived by small provinces as an outcome of intra-state colonialism imposed on them, and their inhabitants instead of enjoying the sense of belongings in state affairs, are feeling themselves forcibly imposed on “Corvee” by state. Therefore, formation of new provinces is also inevitable to achieve a decisive impact on the opinion of smaller provinces in legislation and policy-making in National Assembly and Senate.
Formation of New Provinces is also necessary for Easiness of People and Efficiency of Management
Administratively, formation of new provinces is also necessary in regard to the managerial aspect. If only Punjab and Sindh are taken into consideration, then the collective population rate of Karachi and Lahore have their population more than KPK or Baluchistan. Even the total collective populations of these two cities are equal or greater than many countries in the world, like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway. Therefore, these two cities as Provincial Capitals are also misfit to fulfill the proceedings of 5 million Sindhis and 9 million Punjabis respectively, because both provinces are observed inefficient in dealing with the crisis which their own local citizens face.
Therefore, it has been in practice for decades in Sindh, the budget of remaining Sindh especially rural Sindh is being spent on Karachi by ignoring the deserving regions. While in Punjab, budget of the whole province, especially South Punjab is being spent only in Lahore by ignoring all other deserving regions. Therefore, to get rid of this situation, Lahore and Karachi with their surrounding districts should be established as separate provinces, and overall Punjab should be dissolved. By doing this, the Potohar region and Saraiki belt will be able to get rid of their grievances and deprivation.
Baluchistan is the largest province by area but also the smallest when it comes to population. It has the highest population rate than FATA, GB and AJK only. Due to inverse proportional relationship between area and population, the province has 20 people per square kilometer rate which is the lowest in Pakistan. Therefore, people from isolated and remote areas are forced to travel to major cities like Quetta and Khuzdar through treacherous terrains for their livelihood, health, legal and educational matters. These issues are potentially resolvable under the formation of new provinces. By doing so, they can enjoy their local sources of administration, monitoring and empowerment to resolve their issues on their home ground instead of going to major cities. FATA administration should also be upgraded to full province instead of running from Islamabad, so that the occupants of FATA are less dependent on the Centre.
Formation of New Provinces is required to make Pakistan an Egalitarian Society
In current circumstances of Pakistan under four provinces and FATA, the solution of equal opportunities and fair distribution of resources may become possible, but the question of power sharing among all identities of Pakistan is looking utopia, because any political party or alliance without Punjab cannot make government in the Centre, but any political party or alliance who makes decisive clean sweep only in Punjab can easily make government in the Centre by ignoring the remaining provinces. Even Pakistan People’s Party which is considered to be a “Chain of Federation” in the country could not keep and maintain its federal level in recent 2013 Elections due to its defeat in Punjab. Despite the rare exceptional case of Bhutto family which is also the phenomenon of Punjab’s “king maker’ role, the federation of Pakistan could not bring any Patriotic Nationalist leadership out of Punjab like Sindh, KPK, Baluchistan and FATA which could have relatively equal popularity and following throughout the country.
Although, due to rural and urban quota in Sindh, the provision of equal opportunities of growth has been chiefly resolved, but equitable distribution of resources in the province is still seeking attention. Mainly because on one hand there exists economic deprivation in the rural areas of Sindh, and on the other hand there is the concentration of resources in urban areas of Sindh, particularly Karachi and Hyderabad. More far worse situation is prevailing in Punjab where neither the resources nor the provincial quota is being circulated. Punjab’s development and prosperity is exposed out on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road from left to right. Ironically, at one sight the districts outside Lahore still do not have a suitable sewage system and on the other side, the city is primarily being developed by highly luxury projects. By design and choice, the deprived regions of Punjab need autonomy to become developed, the lava for new provinces is flowing underground. The appeals for formation of Saraikistan and Pothohar provinces are initial sparks.
Baluchistan has very smaller scattered population with very large treacherous terrains. Although, objective calculation shows that Baluchistan got reasonable representation in National Assembly with respect to its exact population, but in terms of subjective calculation Baluchistan deserve more representation in National Assembly, because it is the largest province of Pakistan by land and has 14 general sets in National Assembly. In United Pakistan (1947-1971), population wise West Pakistan was smaller than East Pakistan, but by parity formula, West Pakistan got more seats in parliament than East Pakistan due to its larger area, so why not Baluchistan’s inhabitants are awarded with more representation on parity bases due to their larger area which constitutes 44% of Pakistan’s total land mass. In current distribution of federal units especially current Baluchistan, up till today any worthwhile performance in management and development of its land could not be materialized. Therefore, it is necessary to dissolve the existing Baluchistan, and divide it into further provinces. In order to deal with the issue of low representation due to low population of Baluchistan, new provinces on current Baluchistan land should be allotted with additional seats on the basis of “parity” in the National Assembly. Whereas in Senate, equal seats representation should be maintained for all old and new born provinces.
In current structure of administrative units, the planning of development has become the phenomenon of “Regional Nepotism”, the accumulation of wealth, industrialization, investment and population is limited within the provincial capitals and their nearby areas. While farfetched territories that are far away from the provincial capitals are still suffering scarcity and underdevelopment which can only be eliminated by the formation of new provinces.
Formation of New Provinces is required to shelter the Ethno-Linguistic Diversity
Ethnically, Pakistan is a land of contrast and multination states where ethnicities of different origins, languages and cultures are living under Patriotic Nationalism. Although, four provinces have already been recognized in Pakistan under national identities as Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi and Balochi, but there are some other small and large ethno-linguistic identities residing within these identically recognized provinces and they are demanding their own national identity with their territorial claim. Despite of Urdu speaking community of Sindh, in Punjab call for a Potohar and Siraikistan provinces, in KPK call for Hazara province, in Balochistan sense of Cultural Deprivation of Brahuis and issues of Pushtuns, and in Sindh Urdu Speaking Card are reflections of described above linguistic identical phenomenon.
In Punjab, against demand of Siraikistan province for Siraiki people, stake holders of current Punjab do not recognize Siraiki as a separate language and they declare it a sub accent/dialect of Punjabi language. In fact, Siraiki as a sub accent/dialect, has already gone through their developmental evolutionary process and now has acquired the position of proper established language. Moreover, Siraiki has more rich written literature and distinctive vocabulary than any other accent and dialect of Punjabi language. Siraiki has become a separate ethno-linguistic identity, so there is no way to reject the Siraikism as a separate identity. Therefore, demand of Siraikistan should be fulfilled as soon as possible. Same as Siraikistan province demand, Potohar region is also demanding for Potohar province. However the difference between both the demands is that Siraiki Belt is underdeveloped and Potohar Region is relatively developed one.
In current KPK, Hazara Division has very different sociopolitical and geopolitical scenarios and circumstances than remaining KPK. It is not only a Pushtun dominated region like remaining KPK regions, but also a trilingual region in which Hindko, Kohistani and Pushtun languages are spoken. Moreover, inhabitants of Hazara Division demand their separate autonomy and separate identity. In addition for their economic gains, they also want their split from KPK in form of Hazara Province. Therefore, Hazara Division should be split from KPK as a new separate province.
The growing distress among Urdu speaking nationals of Sindh is also alarming. The term “Muhajir” or “Immigrant” is used in the meanings of “Panaah-Guzeer” to give them shut up call against their demand of separate province by Sindhi chauvinists. To control and down the demography of Urdu Speaking community, the “Stranded Pakistanis” in Bangladesh are not being brought back to Pakistan which they opted as their homeland.
FATA should be Established as Separate Province
Undoubtedly both KPK and FATA are Pushtun majority populous regions but FATA should not be merged in KPK. This can be a very complicated political folly because FATA has very different political climate than KPK. Despite of Pushtun similarity, FATA has too many contradictions with KPK. For example, since independence of Pakistan, FATA has been administrated by British colonial law called Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), which is considered as Black Law in civilized world, while KPK has been administrated by Pakistan’s 1956, 1962 and 1973 Constitutions.
KPK is a developing administrative unit unlike FATA. It has civic culture, while FATA has tribal culture. KPK has been experiencing party system politics and electoral politics like remaining Pakistan, but in FATA newborn and very short age beginnings of electoral politics is weaker than the non-elected Jirga System which is manipulated by local nobles and political agents. Its inhabitants travel to Afghanistan due to their cross-Durand Line family relationships and livelihood. But in KPK, people travel to country’s other provinces and cities, specially Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for their livelihood. In short, there are huge political, economic, societal and developmental time gaps between these two. Due to their non-compatible geopolitical and sociopolitical backgrounds they should not be merged. In case, if FATA is merged with KPK, then its backward areas will be considered as a burden for developing KPK, and due to mediation channel of KPK, FATA will not be able to get its share directly from the Centre. Therefore, it should be recognized as a separate province.
For Geographical Mapping of New Provinces, Geography and Demography should be addressed
Pakistan does not have a monotonous terrain geologically. It is a blend of mountains, deserts, coasts, wetlands, arid lands, fertile lands, forests and mineral lands. Even the difference of climate, weather and temperature makes it more diverse. Development and backwardness wise gaps potentially encourage the diversity of geological features between these regions. Therefore, it is necessary to realize that whenever the current provinces are divided into more new provinces, their geological features should also be considered. The biggest benefit would be the fact that whenever the policies are made and implemented for symmetric progress for all units of federation, the possibility of equal impact for the whole federation will be greater, because in such case, at the time of transferring funds from the Centre to the provinces will be relatively easier and all provinces under the federation may attain similar growth and prosperity.
Demographically, if population density is included in geological features then question of population will also encourage the formation of new more provinces, because the issue of population density is becoming more and more alarming like a time-bomb. Industrialization and Urban Sprawls are taking place on agrarian, fertile, and forestry lands against forestation, environmental protection and food security. On the other side wastelands like barren, mountainous, sandy and deserted areas are not been properly utilized nor modified for human settlement to eliminate the alarming challenge of concentration of more population on already over dense populous regions.
Formation of New Provinces is required for National Security
With respect to external defense and internal order viewpoints from traditional and nontraditional threats, Pakistan’s limited strategic depth due to its narrow and elongated size, also promotes the formation of new provinces. As under current geopolitical and geostrategic scenario of Punjab, in case of defensive or offensive war with Pakistan’s archrival India, India can paralyze the administration of more than 2 million square kilometers land of Punjab. But in geopolitical scenario of three or more than three provinces in place of current Punjab, there will be rare probability of this risk. The same can happen with Sindh if India or anyone makes naval blockade of Karachi then that will smoothly affect the administrative structure of Sindh. FATA and KPK have elongated strategic depths like a long narrow strip.
Meanwhile, Baluchistan has very vast strategic depth with very treacherous terrain. With these geopolitical structures, in case of full scale war or low intensity conflict with Afghanistan or Iran, even in case of any cross-border incursion or infiltration, proxy belligerency and terrorist insurgency opposed by non-state actors like terrorist organizations, separatist organizations and state sponsored infiltration organizations, more than six provinces in place of current four provinces and FATA strategically will be much more defendable and sustainable because according to the number of provinces there will be more local stake holders of the respective provinces to deal with crises. Therefore, formation of new provinces is required for national security.
Conclusion; Demand for New Provinces is also reasonable on Non-Administrative Grounds
In India, dealing with the administrative units was attained as a result of partition. It has been forming new ones on valid calculations and ethnic roots since 1956 to 2014. Whereas recently on 2nd June 2014, it further divided the administrative unit of “Andrapradesh” on the basis of linguistic reasons. The division into a separate new administrative unit with proper provincial status was named as ‘Telangana’. Thanks to the new administrative units formed on linguistic grounds, the smaller communities now feel more protected and less disadvantaged in the state of India. The balance in terms of area and population is evident within these managerial units which ultimately strengthened and sheltered the Indian federation, which is an example for Pakistan to emulate.
The division of existing provinces and formation of new provincial heads has become inevitable now. While addressing the issue of the inception of new administrative units in Pakistan, their ethno-linguistic, geographical, geological, strategic, federal and managerial aspects must be kept in consideration, so that civilian lives could become easier, deficiencies of smaller communities could be minimized, social paralysis can be eradicated and Pakistanis could enjoy the opportunity of benefits. All identities can contribute actively in the business of state with the sense of belonging. Power-Sharing with circulation, equal opportunities and fair distribution of resources can be generalized. The country will be able to struggle for development and infrastructure enhancement which can be as a result of uniformity rather than chaos. It can only be possible when the existing administrative units in Pakistan are further divided into thirty additional provinces, otherwise Pakistanis will unwillingly continue to tolerate the existing difficult and streaming conditions. Therefore, instead of finding salvation from Federation they will opt for separation, historic example of which is the partition of East Bengal (East Pakistan).
The opinions expressed in this article are of the contributor and do not reflect the policy of Weekly Pakistan.
Hussain Raza is a Islamabad based freelance journalist, researcher and writer.
He can be reached at facebook at HUSSAINRAZA.OfficialPage