Seraikistan will not weaken the federation

Published: April 25, 2012

New provinces created on administrative basis, rather than linguistic or ethnic ones, would further strengthen our national integrity. PHOTO: EXPRESS

While it may seem that the PPP-led government has failed to deliver to the masses, it has definitely added some feathers in its cap by extending autonomy to provinces through the NFC Award, by abolishing concurrent lists, and through the passing of the 18th and 19th constitutional amendments.

In addition to this, it has provided the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan with identities, and given representation to religious minorities in the Senate. Indeed, PPP is one of the few parties in the country which strongly believes in provincial autonomy that is directly proportional to strengthening the federation.

However, whenever there are voices raised in favour of the formation of new provinces, believers of ‘federalism’ promptly stand up against the proposed ideas with their stale and hackneyed arguments and notions. There is an uproar over this issue, particularly over the formation of Seraikistan since it will create a line on Punjab’s map, bifurcating south and north Punjab. This subject has become food for thought for bloggers, columnists and many others.

Even though the proposal of the Seraikistan province has received a great deal of negativity, President Asif Ali Zardari has now promised the Seraiki people a separate province. However, the federalists and rightists – believers of the status quo and no change — have their own misconceived and pre-meditated notions about the formation of new provinces. They believe that if a few more lines are sketched on Pakistan’s map, it will weaken the centre thus ultimately lead to the federation breaking up.

Nothing is wrong with the formation of  Seraikistan, Hazara or any other new province that is created for the purpose of easing administrative affairs. History is replete with examples where countries have created new administrative units; India has increased the number of its provinces to 28 since 1947.

The population of Pakistan has augmented many folds since 1947, thus a demand for new provinces is a genuine one. Besides, the demand by people of southern Punjab is not something unconstitutional; it is not something that might cause harm to national integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan. It is purely democratic and our constitution even has a provision for this. Article 239 (4)  of the constitution reads:

A bill to amend the Constitution which would have the effect of altering the limits of a Province shall not be presented to the President for assent unless it has been passed by the Provincial Assembly of that Province by the votes of not less than two-thirds of its total membership.

Moreover, the movement for Seraikistan has been peaceful and non-violent. Though the region touches borders with all four provinces, including the troubled Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the movement has so far not witnessed any non-democratic action.

If Punjab is to prevent itself from secessionist and nationalist movements – there are many such movements going on in Sindh and Balochistan – then the creation of Seraikistan is a must. The new province would, in the long term, be in favour of Punjab. I say this because the reservation of the nationalists of smaller provinces concerning Punjab taking the lion’s share in government’s resources, job quotas and so on will be wiped away once it is equal in population to other smaller provinces.

However, new provinces should definitely not be formed on the basis of language or ethnicity since this would create a further ethnic divide amongst the communities.

There are a few detractors who believe that like Punjab, Sindh should also be divided into two provinces. However, they should understand that the cases of Sindh and Seraikistan are totally different from each other. Firstly, there is no visible demand or movement by the people of Karachi or the MQM for such a cause.

There have been allegations about Jinnahpur, but these have been categorically denied many times.  Secondly, there are reservations amongst the people of interior Sindh, especially Sindhi nationalists, about a Karachi-based ethnic party, but they have never made a demand for separating Karachi from the rest of the Sindh.

Thirdly, Seraiki people in Punjab are demanding a separate province because Southern Punjab has been lagging behind in the development sector. They allege that much of the development funds are being spent in Lahore or in the northern Punjab. Karachi, on the other hand, is not only the most developed metropolitan city of the country, but it ranks amongst the top developed cities in the world! Hence, the Urdu speaking population of Pakistan has no reason to have any reservations.

To save ink, creating new provinces should not be compared with the weakening of the federation. New provinces created on administrative basis, rather than linguistic or ethnic ones would, in fact, further strengthen our national integrity. This would also create harmony and enhance provincial autonomy.

Therefore, the formation of Seraikistan cannot be ignored; it will come sooner or later.

Read more by Kapil here

 

Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev

A communications consultant who writes on minority rights and social issues.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Salim Khan

    Why all the focus on saraiki province only? Why no media attention to the strong demand for a Mohajir province made out of Sindh?
    If ppp is making new provinces than a Mohajir province must be made before anything else.
    The ppp has two-thirds majority in sindh assembly, it can easily make a new Mohajir province and give Mohajir their rights.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Siddiqui

    Why is there an ethnic bias in some sections of the media? Stories about saraiki province are given excessive coverage but news about the Muhajir sooba movement is censored.
    Are Muhajir people lesser than saraikis or Hazaras that they don’t get any media coverage?

    There have been rallies, protests in favour of a new Muhajir sooba in Sindh but media ignored them completely but the media gives full coverage to anything relating to a Saraiki province.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Siddiqui

    A new Muhajir province will also strengthen the federation.
    A new Muhajir province will help out Sindh province.
    The Muhajir community must be given its due rights, we’ve sacrificed a lot for Pakistan. It is time the PPP and its allies created a new Muhajir province in karachi and Hyderabad.Recommend

  • yousuf rauf

    If Sariki and hazara suba yes, then mohajir sooba yes also.the racial bigotry against muhajirs must end.a new muhajir sooba must be made if a new sariki sooba is being made.Recommend

  • Arsalan Aziz

    The PPP is out to destroy Punjab by hook or by crook. They cut off gas and electricity supply to punjab for four years to destroy the industries and now for the final move they are actively and aggressively campaigning to divide up Punjab so they can remain always in power.

    Inciting hatred amongst people living in Punjab , stoking ethnic hate in saraiki brothers for their own political gains is a new low. They want seats in south punjab so they are breaking punjab up.
    If ppp wants new provinces then it should remember they will have to make a new Mohajir province also out of what was Sindh province originally. They can’t have double standards that dividing up punajb is okay but not sindh. If punjab and KPK are to be divided, then so must Sindh also be divided up. This racist discrimination against punjab by ppp must end.Recommend

  • maiden

    Go ahead and break up Pakistan. Let’s see if it is a positive or negative move – as with everything, only time will tell…Recommend

  • Maqsood Bawany

    The Urdu, memoni, Gujrati speaking people of Karachi and Hyderabad deserve a new provine of our own. Our ancestors gave great sacrifices to leave India . We have built up Karachi into the economic powerhouse it is today. It is high time that we are given a new province of our own, a new home of our own.
    As new provinces are being created now, so this is the golden chance to create a new province for the migrants who came from India.Recommend

  • maria malik

    excellent write up , you are absolutely right that “creation of new province will not weaken the Federation” but will seed the good will gestures among upper and lower punjab.This demand is genuine and govt. should pay heed towards this othervise bitterness will escalate and destroy the harmony and integrity of the country.Recommend

  • azad laghari

    dear heartly appreciate your struggle towards siraiki people.. keep it up we are with u… and plz write a article thate there is ni muhajir sooba in all over the world there are muhjir camps…Recommend

  • Sayed Aasim

    There is no doubt looking into the increase of the population and the resources divisibility, the creation on new Province(s), should be done.

    But the New province should be created on the basis of Administrative ability, not on the basis of ethnicity.

    If the new provinces created on administration basis would further strengthen the Federation as well assure just divisibility of the resources.Recommend

  • Qaisrani

    Hats off to you Mr Kapil.
    For all those who are advocating Muhajir and Hazara province,Develop Saraikistan up to that level,we will not demand separate province from Punjab.So stop attaching your biased cause to just cause of Saraikistan which qualifies on all grounds to be declared a province.
    As Punjabis and Muhajirs are more educated,so Mr Kapil you will receive lot of criticism from both the sections of society but please d’not bow to their pressure.Saraikis will always remmeber your this literary contribution to their just cause for ever.In the end,thanks again.
    Long Live Saraikistan and Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://Twitter.com/barooq Barooq

    Lol. Firstly abc, secondly abc and thirdly abc? Does the author realize that he never put any argument at all?Recommend

  • Pervez Haroon

    Your biased and racist attitude towards Mohajirs is self-evident. Why should you get a new province of you own and we shouldn’t ? why do you regard yourself superior to Mohajirs. if u can get a new saraiki province than a new mohajir province is also compulsory.
    Special treatment being given to Saraikis and discriminatory treatment being done to mohajirs to deny the basic right of a province is hypocritical.These double standards are sickening, if saraikis can get a new province than so can mohajirs.Recommend

  • malik waqas hameed

    dear thanks to highlight a great cause of “Seraikistan”, it is really admirable effort on behalf of you. Seraikistan is a sacred issue for the seraiki peoples, here rest the question of stable Pakistan but it is out of my reason that why GT Road media is hesitating to highlight the ground realities of the Seraiki region. kapil ur strive is really commendable thanks Recommend

  • jamal

    i m not sure if my hometown khushab is going to part of saraikistan or not coz sargodha div ins and outs of the so called province. just to elaborate, punjab already has three benches of highcourt in rawalpindi, lahore and multan. also wondering wht will poeple from sindh say if a leader from punjab talks about the so called mohajir province? on a separate note, how long does it takes for someone to be resident of a land? just curious coz GM syed’s name suggests that he was from lineage of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Bashir Quraishi also seems to hail from Arab, being quraishi. If they can be stanch sindhis why cant a punjabi settler be a balochi or sindhi after certain years?Recommend

  • faraz

    Last year the per capita expenditure by provincial government in Lahore division was Rs. 35,000 while in divisions of Southern Punjab, it was Rs.1000. In Jhang, it was mere 300. Partition of Punjab is the only option available to ensure equitable distribution of resources.Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    Unbelievable just look at the comments by readers demanding a Mohajir sooba, why do you people still call yourselves Mohajir’s? Your ancestors migrated from India, not you people, start calling yourselves Pakistani first, and get this straight into your head all of you who are calling for a Mohajir Soobah, by making such demands you are going to create an un neccessary rift between yourselves and the sons of the soil, the Sindhis, Pashtuns and Seraiki’s living in Karachi, if you alienate yourselves from Sindis you are about to create a lot of trouble for future generations. And Most importantly get this idea inside your head, Pakistan was not created as a nation for the Mohajir’s of UP and Bihar and their descendants to rule generation after generation, this is a nation for everyone who is a citizen of Pakistan. Why should an immigrant community that doesn’t even call itself Pakistani be given a province off their own carved out of a province of the sons of the soil, people of Sind and Punjab welcomed you, embraced you people and you want to take their land away, their city away so you guys can create opportunities for yourself. First go and learn to call yourselves Pakistani. Recommend

  • Ahmed Khayam

    Very well written dear… So far the the difference between the case of Karachi (Muahirstaan) and Siraaikistan is concerned, technically speaking, there is only one. That is to say, the demand of Muhajiristaan even if ever raised by MQM, can not be granted, as they are refugees. On the other hand siraaiki people are the native of their land. In terms of management, as you have mentioned, siraaikistaan can be welcomed. PPP may initially succeed in downing with the political impact of PML-N in Punjaab, nevertheless, signs may be foreseen that PML-N will also take the similar revenge on PPP as soon as they join the power…Recommend

  • ….

    What Pakistan needs is good governance..bring back the local government system and devolve power. Recommend

  • Muhammad

    I feel saraiki province is Ethenic or Liguistic based as well as administrative reasons. If PPP and other parties are supporting this province then next is Hazara and Karachi province in line. There is already some voices raised for separate urdu speaking province from sindh.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    I think the situation is southern Punjab and the situation is southern sindh is somewhat similar. Most of the rights of southern punjab is taken by Lahore, same as in southern sindh, most political influence in sindh is by Sindhi speaking people rather than urdu speaking locals. Secondly, administrative wise its hard to control law and order situation for the whole province. Its better to create southern province in Sindh for better administration and better law and order. Recommend

  • Ali

    punjab, sindh, balochistan, KP, Kashmir etc are ethnic names of the administrative units of pakistan.
    rename these provinces to jinnahpur, iqbalpur, liaquatpur, sirsyedpur, fatimanagar etc etc
    or do not oppose the formation of new provinces on ethnic grounds either!

    pakistan has a lot of ethnicities. no province shall have an ethnic name, including the already existing ones….. otherwise, all ethnicities should be allowed the right to demand a separate provinceRecommend

  • Gupt Rogue

    I want my seraiki province now, and i want it to be called seraiki nadu. No more arabic culture for us.Recommend

  • Mohsin Khosa

    Kudos to Kapil and ET for highlighting the plight of Seraiki [and Baloch] people

    Punjabi colonial elite is afraid of Seraiki province becuase they would lose their right to land grab. Both Mians and Chuadharys have used this land grab to reward their cronies.Whatever is now left, Military is staking claim on it.

    Now, if this kind of injutsice can happen within borders of Punjab then imagine the situation in Balochistan. Dont believe me then,ask anyone from GAWADAR and they would tell how people living in Lahore became the owners of the land which belonged to Baloch tribes of Makran. Recommend

  • Lahoran

    despite being a north-punjaban, I strongly support a saraiki province. these folks too have a right for a dedicated and WILLINGLY supportive provincial government. they hv a rich history, enough population, and vast area of land to RIGHTFULLY demand for a separate unit of government.

    GOOD LUCK SARAIKI’sRecommend

  • Qaisrani

    @Lahoran:
    Thank you for your support.This open mindedness will result in more prosperous Pakistan based on love and respect for all communities.Recommend

  • mirza junaid baig

    @ author
    you did splendid job.you are receiving lots of criticism on formation of new suba because they all belongs to big cities.They are more literate then southern Punjab.Southern punjabian always deprived and lacking behind in basic necessities.IM not talking about lavish life and all updated facilities m just talking about necessities of life. being a MULTANI i dont want new suba on the basis of language and ethnicity.i want new suba for giving a healthy budget to new suba rather than to Lahore for betterment of deprived people :)Recommend

  • stenson

    Why separate South Punjab when they are part of the best run and only stable province in the nation? Does everyone want to make another poor unstable province instead of letting South Punjab develop along with Central and North Punjab? Sounds just like the same politics that will lead to separate province for Indian Muhajirs in Karachi.Recommend

  • Zuhaib

    why not divide Pakistan in 10 to 12 provinces, instead of just making one controversial. there is a need to break Sindh in to two, Punjab will be in 4 , balochistan in to two, KPK into two as well. there is also posibility that if ppp make Saraiki soba then the door will open for Muhajir, Bahwalpure and Hazaras.. Recommend

  • Sheeda

    I, a PML-N supporter (like the many others commenting here supporting a Muhajir sooba) demand the creation of a Muhajir sooba so to sabotage the creation of a Seraiki one and prevent the division of Punjab and end to its hegemony over Pakistan’s other provinces.Recommend

  • SYED ADEEL

    lets go back t one unit system and than we shall all live in peace and put an end to ethnic hatred!Recommend

  • javaid iqbal

    Dear all, I am a punjabi living in Distt Layyah since 1960 and grown up with saraiki and urdu speaking friends. We never had any problem with them and not from me to them. I personally earned from abroad and from other provinces and spent in Layyah. I never felt discrimination from any saraiki friends but now things are being changed.Ordinary people and innocent people are thinking a different thing about saraiki province like MQM in Karachi. Should we not think that this ethnic movement has destroyed karachi.In reaction Punjabi pakhtoon itehad, ANP, and now Balochs are stronger and have brought mohajirs in blind corner. I know that saraiki rulers are more cruel than punjabi bureaucrats. What will happen when our district of layyah will change in punjabi chowk azam, punjabi fateh pur and saraiki Kot sultan. Unfortunately saraiki leaders are corrupt in moral. Can u not see pictures of Yousaf Raza Gillani with Sherry Rehaman’s hidden parts, and Abdul Qayyum Jatoi hand cuffed with rope.Please try to understand. Just changing the name of province sarhad to Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa has created Hazara province name. When u think that saraiki area is far away from lahore and it takes long to travel to Lahore for solving their problems then is Ghotki near to Karachi than Bhawalpur to Lahore or HUB to Quetta or DIK to Peshawar.

    Sorry, this is not the way that we solve our problems. Should we need a province to rule by Abdul Qadir Gillani Haj and chemical corrupted youngsters. Think about your own children not Bilawal Zardari.

    Do Zardari or Gillani love saraiki people then why they have stopped construction of greater thal canal which is only for saraiki belt. They will let drown Sind in floods but do not let Kala Bagh dam where water is only for saraiki belt. Do our people no sense to think. Pakistan has a population of 180 million while one province of India UP has a population of 180 million. It is not the matter of population. It is good govern ace which PPP specially and generally big parties have not.. Really if we need more province we should go to report of Jamil Nishter and divide whole country in 19 provinces then perhaps it will better.Recommend

  • Ghulam Ali

    @Salim Khan:
    R u kidding me?
    Mohajir povince will only have karachi in it then? becoz majority is sindhi people in other districts.Recommend

  • Ghulam Ali

    We welcomed you in pakistan, remember, now you want to divide Sindh :’(. Y cant u live with sindhis peacefully and call yourself sindhi?? all the other communities speak sindhi here and have no problem with us? Sindhi people are in majority in every district except karachi so u will definately not get a seperate province. hyderabad is 65% sindhi majority for ur info.@Salim Khan: Recommend

  • nadeem

    I think we must look the things worst than Sariki province. Most of us have not visited Turbat a remote area in Baluchistan Province. Turbat is approximately 75 km form Iran boarder. Turbat has only reliable link with the whole country is by air. The provincial capital Quetta is very difficult to approach by road. The literacy rate of Turbat is about 80-90%. No one talks about its separate provincial HQ for Turbat. The upper sind is as backward as one can think, the only developed area in KPK is Peshawar and the cities fall along the GT road. Actually those who are shouting to create more provinces, have some other notions. The parliament members were responsible for backwardness of such areas and all previous and present members must be taken to task to the backwardness of their constituency. To create more provinces means creating more administrative expenditure and more burden on the public. We must think for the unity rather than creating distances. Recommend