By Barrister Mansur Sarwar Khan
In South East Asia, somewhere behind every event lurks the question: who is to blame? The blame game is the most lovable in time way of life in this part of the world. This way of life is responsible for all tragedies, lack of knowledge, research and wild sweeping statements and claims that we view and review everything now and then. We are a society stuck in the past, lost in the future, careless about our present and stagnating somewhere in the middle of no where.
The “Pakhtoon khawa” myth and reality is not that simple as giving identity to a segment of frontier province. It is infact a historical animosity running so deep that both communities Pukhtoons and Hazari have never reconciled to any formula based on equality, mutual respect and room for accommodation. The Hazari have mostly been on the receiving end of the nasty sturuggle for absolute and unilateral declaration of title. “Pashtun”- Hazari suspicions and disagreements from prayer to politics date back to colonial era and even beyond. Across the centuries, there have been wars started by both sides, Hazari to get rid of Pashtun suzerainty and Pushtoons to enslave Hazari and keep them weak and dependent.
Looking at the Hazara tribal scale in historical perspective in this area there are so many historic and prehistoric settlements that in some respects these are identified and in other aspects these are unidentified. But the commonality of all these cultures and all these tribes share, is their linguistic link to the Hindko language and culture; whereas the real language of the Hazari is Pushto or Farsi. So peeping into the remote past and glancing at the near past Hazari people are not based on parochialism, tribalism or feudalist .common interests, security, dangers and shared perceptions have shaped them in the form that we find them today. Their demand for a separate province is based on their treatment at the hands of the prejudiced Pashtun establishment and their sociological fear of being denied self-respect, human rights and equality of citizenship.
The historic war games between Pashtuns and Hazari communities in Afghanistan have had their impact in modern day Pakistan; just as Afghan wars today are having their fall out on Pakistan.
The Pashtuns whether in establishment, power or business consider Hazari to be a second rate citizens. A Hazari visitor to Pashtun strong holds like Bannu, Peshawar or Mardan is made to suffer from a strong inferiority complex and subjected to racial abuse of the kind blacks found themselves in white South Africa during the apartheid era and to a lesser degree in U.S.A.
If visiting Hazari cannot speak Pashto he is considered a Punjabi and damned; through out the Pushton heartlands a double standard is applied to a Pashtun citizen and Hazari citizen.
Culturally Hazari are well-educated, hard working and responsible citizens living by the rule of law.They are not into drug trafficking, smuggling and abduction for ransom whereas all these vices are a way of life to Pashtun peoples in the country and border lands.
The over-whelming worry of the Hazari peoples is that they are considered Pashtuns in Punjab and Punjabi in Pushton Khawa and go to get the worst of both worlds.
The right to pursuit of peace, prosperity and self-respect can only be realized by having an identity through procuring a separate province of their own. This is their feeling today.
The crises of identity transpired lately at the time of that God damned earth quack. The people of Pakistan in particular and the world in general made generous contributions. These contributions were placed under the supervisions of the provincial government which comprised of 90% of Pushtoon Bureaucracy which humiliated the Hazari people and took away 60% of the AID, Whereas the Hazari were left High and Dry. This gave a sense of helplessness and a desire to become masters of their own affairs.
The hatred against Pashtun bureaucracy is evident from this volcanic Public reaction against the Pukhtoon Khawa name and the official high handedness against the protesters who were nothing but peaceful.
Being more educated, accommodation oriented, averse to gun culture; the Hazari has taken stock of the situation. They are more resourceful, less vulnerable to the Afghan mess, with Tarbella dam in Haripur which is producing 39% electric power with the K.K.H linkage; they calculate of a much better standard of living as compared to their Pashtun masters. The Jadoon and Treem Pashtuns are also supportive of Hazara province due to its economic dividends.
70% of Tea gardens are located in Hazara division whereas 90% of world class tobacco is grown in the division; which can boast of major tourist locations after destruction of tourist spots in Pukhtun khawa.
The Hazari is also eyeing for the Bhasha dam. By any stretch of knowledge no one can deny the benefits of this new province to its inhabitants. Just like Muslims of india lost patience after the rejection of Cabinet mission plan; the renaming of N.W.F.P was a proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back. The job has been done; and the stubborn and ANP still living in the past has again stepped on the wrong side of history; that too for the very same reasons, passions and a born again victim of arrogance hubris……… yet again. My word’ results would be no different than 1947, because those who donot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Now our short-sighted political players are bogged down on the name, like they were closeted on 6 ponits of Sheikh Mujid; they may think; tomorrow it would be over, but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow never come. Though what did come was Bangla Desh.So this demand for Hazara Province will never die. If we dream so lets keep dreaming.So instead of living back in those interesting times, the Pashtun leadership should understand that for the very same reasons of 1947 they have yet again lost big time. 63 years down the line their stubbornness and Nawaz sharif’s opportunism and selfishness like Abdul Kalam Azad is responsible for this demand and movement which can never ever be suppressed. Pakistan a country of 180 million needs re-thinking over its administrative units for healthy good governance. Which means lot more provinces should be created and we all know that Punjab is in line with a population of 100 million.
In the National interest Atock’ Hazara, D.I. Khan , Mianwali and Bukkher should be our new province of Hazara because Pashtuns would eye for Mianwali after the loss of Tarbela. This way we can address our water crises which is the impending and the most potential danger in the forth coming years. With Kala Bagh dam constructed in Hazara province, the fears and suspicions of the objecting provinces can be addressed as per their requirement without Punjab’s interference in the construction and running of the Kala Bagh. Most independent analysts believe that the foremost problem with the proposed dam at Kalabagh is one of a “trust deficit between the Punjab on one side and the other three provinces on the other so therefore with the creation of Hazara province at least trust deficit will be restored because Mianwali district would be part of Hazara Province instead of Punjab province. According to one World Bank report, Pakistan can overcome its water crisis if it gives serious consideration to Kalabagh Dam project. The World Bank is doing its best to continuously express its readiness to finance the Kala Bagh Dam. The Kalabagh Dam will readily address emergency electricity issues in Pakistan. The Boggy of drowning of N.W.F.P would die down as no such a danger existed the issue was to deny a dam to Punjab. Modalities and details can be worked out. Lets for once behave like mature, responsible nation and save our country the agony of water crises and water theft by India. Punjab is simply a petulant child that has to be punished into doing what we want to do. If water issue is not addressed at war footing ‘; we are drifting towards a catastrophe beyond comparison.
Barrister-Mansur Sarwar Khan (chair man agro water council Pakistan)