National, Opinion

Realities of a Separate Hazara Province

File Photo of Baba Haider Zaman, founder of Tehrik-e-Sooba Hazara party.

The administrative division of a country into smaller units, provinces, entities or states is the pre-requisite of its smooth functioning and unhindered development. The division should be based on the fulfillment of the needs of the people and its productivity for the state. In this regard, the considerations of its geography, history, language, ethnicity etc., may be helpful. Most of the countries of the world have created new units in order to meet the growing demands of their peoples and to improve their administrative systems.

India has at present 29 states and 7 union territories whereas it had 14 provinces in 1947. Iran had 12 provinces till 1950; it has now 26 provinces and 9 dependencies. The US with 50 administrative units, Turkey with 81, and China with 34 provinces have been developing well economically and politically. Even though it can be argued that these three countries are much bigger in size and it makes sense to divide them into smaller administrative units, however, It’s not just a matter of size. Even countries which are much smaller in size than Pakistan have more provinces than Pakistan. Austria with 8 million people and area almost equal to the size of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) has 9 provinces. Afghanistan with a weaker economy has 31 provinces.

Moreover, the re-organization of the provinces from time to time is common in all countries. China has re-organizesd its provinces several times since 1949.

Pakistan is the 6th most populous and the 33rd largest country in the world. Its population density makes it 56th in the list of countries with 245 peoples living per square kilometer. However, the creation of new administrative units have never been welcomed by the larger ethnic and linguistics groups in any of the four existing provinces for the fear that their resources would be divided and ultimately occupied by the communities living in the new smaller provinces.

One such demand is that of Hazara of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as a separate province. A demand that has been denied by the rulers at the cost of the people of this area.

Hazara with total area of 18,013 km² and over 6 million population, lies immediately south of the main Himalaya Range. It is bounded on the north and east by the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. To the south lies the Islamabad Capital Territory and the province of Punjab, whilst to the west is the rest of KP.

On its west, it does not connect with the rest of the KP through roads while it does have direct road communication system with the northern areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Islamabad territory and Punjab. This geographical detachment of the region from the rest of the KP makes its people use the road through Punjab in order to reach the provincial capital. The case of the travelling of its people from Kohistan, Kala Dhaka and Battagram is more adverse who have to make at least one night transit stay at Mansehra or Abbottabad for their further journey to Peshawar.

Hazara has always been a separate region through all the phases of history. Alexander the Great, after conquering parts of Punjab, established his rule over a large part of Hazara in 327 B.C . The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang has described Hazara an important region of the state of Kamboja, whose rulers followed a republican form of government. Ashoka was the governor of Hazara during the great Mauriya dynasty. The later rules of the Turk, Durrani, Sikhs and British could not break the cultural identity and unity of Hazara and it remained a separate region under all of them. Gazetteer of the Hazara District 1883-4 and 1907 written by the British serve witness to the separate identity of this region. This book describes the distinct culture and living of the peoples of Hazara from their brethren in the KP and Punjab.

Hazara remained a separate province till 1901, after which the British attached it with KP, then called North West Frontier Province, to make a separate province from Punjab.

The creation of Pakistan was based on the two-nation theory. However, deviation from the theory resulted in the breakup of the West Pakistan in December, 1971 on the ethnic grounds. Even now, the rulers have not learnt any lesson from it and failed to accommodate ethnic identities of the peoples who wanted a separate provincial status to preserve their status quo in the provincial set-up. The problem of ethnic and regional sub-nationalism in the smaller provinces is critical and tends to complicate the process of nation building. We fell into differences of languages and then saw the formation of Bangladesh.

The four administrative units of the present Pakistan were formed by the British on administrative basis; but the impression is that Punjab belongs to Punjabis, Sindh to Sindhis , Baluchistan to Balochi and now the KP to Pukhtun. The peoples speaking other languages in these provinces are being dubbed as the minorities in their own land. Their sense of inferiority can be removed by creating the provinces on administrative basis.

The movement of a separate Hazara province was started by a young advocate Mufti Idrees in 1957, however, it could not get impetus due to the introduction of the one-unit formula by Ayub. Later, people of Hazara raised a voice for Hazara Province through “Hazara Qaumi Mahaz” (HQM) founded by late Malik Asif Advocate in 1987. The movement got set-back by the untimely death of Asif Malik. However, the renaming of the former NWFP to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in 2010 brought all the leaders of Hazara under the platfarm of Tehreek-e-Hazara movement led by Baba Haider Zaman.

The announcement of the new name also led to calls from Hazara for a new separate province. Ten persons died, and nearly two hundred were hurt during the rallies and protests all over Hazara region in April, 2010. A complete wheel-jam and shutter-down strike was again observed in the Hazara on 2 May 2010, in support of this demand. Large public meetings and public protests have been regularly organized by the HQM (Hazara Quami Mahaz Pakistan) and Tehreek-e-Hazara movement since 2010. However, differences of personal opinion split the movement.

Again, in 2013 elections, the Tehreek-e-Hazara was registered as a political party by Baba Haider Zaman. But its former stalwarts contested the elections either as independents or from the platfarm of other political parties though they promised their voters to struggle for a separate Hazara province during their election compaign. They used Hazara Province slogans on their posters and banners all over Hazara. Their unity at the time of the passage of the resolution of Hazara as a separate province from the KP assembly on March 21, 2014 is a testimony to their promises with the people of Hazara.

Interestingly, on the issue of this resolution, the house members from Hazara irrespective of their party alliances voted in favour of the resolution. All the major parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have expressed support for this idea. So the impression that the proponents of Hazara province were defeated in 2013 election and the Hazara movement got weakened, is false.

The grace of being a Pakistani is the only perception which is stronger than any other perception; there is no need of declaration that one is Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi or Pukhtun. The current situations like the Sindhi-Mohajir in Sindh, Baluchi-Pukhtun-Brauhi in Baluchistan, Punjabi-Saraiki in Punjab and Pukhtun-Hazarewal in the KP are due to this division. Had there been the renewal of the provincial division on pure administrative basis, we would have no such problems. The Ayub’s one unit formula serves as evidence to the fact that we had no such problems.

The experts’ analysis of the economic situation of Hazara describes it as an economically viable region. It is the most populous division of the KP contributing provincial exchequer maximum economic and cultural income. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s share of Pakistan’s total GDP has been 10.5%, although the province accounts for 11.9% of Pakistan’s total population. The part of the economy that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dominates is forestry, the major part of which comes from Hazara.

Hazara has one of the major industrial areas of KP, including Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP) and the Hattar Industrial Zone. It produces 70 percent tea of total production of Pakistan, and produces the best grade tobacco in the country. A rare and expensive fish named Trout is also available in Hazara in river Kunhar and all the lakes.

It is rich in minerals and natural resources. The three main dams of Pakistan, Tarbella, Khanpur and Ghazi Barotha are in Hazara. Tarbela Dam produces 39 percent of the total electricity in the country. The fourth one, the Bhasha Dam is under construction in the Kohistan. Several small dams can be constructed in the region. Beside this, the river Kunhar is also a contributory river to the Mangla dam.

The royalties from these water reservoirs make Hazara the foremost candidate for the new provinces in Pakistan. The forests and tourism can be developed in the region. The lakes of Lulusar, Dudipatsar and Saiful Muluk are the most beautiful tourists points in the region.

The minerals like soap stone, coal, barite, dolomite, granite, gypsum, limestone, magnetite, marble, phosphate, red ochre and red oxide have rich reservoirs in the region. The industries created of them can be established. Hattar Industrial Estate lies on a strategic location along the route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Haripur and it can go a long way in promoting exports from the region to Afghanistan, China and Central Asian countries.

Abbottabad city is not only the center of the cultural, educational and political activitivies of the peoples from all over Pakistan and the KP, but also the people from the other part of Hazara like Kohistan, Battagram and Kala Dakka reside and work in large number in Abbottabad, Mansehra and Haripur. They prefer to stay in these regions. A large number of students from these districts study in schools, medical colleges and universities in Abbottabad.

According to a latest survey, Abbottabad has the highest Human Development Index (HDI) after Islamabad in Pakistan and the highest in the KP. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic used to rank areas by level of “human development”. These values are provided by the Social Development in Pakistan Annual Review 2014-15. Other cities of the KP following Abbottabad are Haripur, Mansehra and Peshawar.

The Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul, Abbottabad, is where all military officers of Pakistan are trained. The University of Hazara, based in Mansehra, provides higher education to people of the region. Similarly, the students of the far districts of Hazara prefer to stay in Abbottabad due to its pleasant weather and peaceful atmosphere. These indices make the southern districts of Hazara favourite for their fellows living in the northern district.

The recently announced amalgamation of FATA with KP will only be welcomed by the people of Hazara if Hazara itself is declared a separate province; otherwise the deprivation amongst them will increase because this amalgamation on one hand is made on the basis of geographical attachment of FATA with the KP and on other hand an unnatural and unproductive attachment of Hazara with the KP is maintained. Moreover, with the FATA merger the demography of the region will be changed on the basis of ethnicity and language.

It is a well-established fact that the smaller the provinces, the stronger the federation will be. The smaller units would not be in a position to demand separation from Pakistan. Moreover, the larger provinces can be a threat to the weakening of the state. By creating new provinces on administrative basis, Pakistan would substantially progress economically and politically.

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