KP politics: Of name changes and one-line manifestos

Published: December 15, 2011

The ANP came into power promising an end to terrorism, but their only agenda was changing the name of their province. PHOTO: APP

Walking out from parliament is one of the oldest forms of expressing dissent or dissatisfaction with the government. However, on December 9, there was a walkout in parliament over an issue of immeasurable proportions. No, not drone strikes. No, not memogate or Ghulam Nabi Fai. No, not Zardari’s health or Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif’s exchange of dirty laundry and certainly not pictures of Veena Malik. This was much bigger, yet it could be summarised in three letters. KPK.

Apparently the ruling party of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ANP, decided that the abbreviated use of the province’s name in ministries’ written replies to legislators’ questions was an affront to the people of the province. Now, without burrowing too far into the semantics of the new name, which itself excludes a large minority of KP-ites (they aren’t Pakhtun so the association with the ethnic group is invalid), the last time I checked, the former NWFP was a province ravaged by terrorism, illiteracy, hunger, subjugation of women and state corruption.

Granted, so is the rest of the country, but in KP (as this newspaper calls it) the situation is worse. Military operations were required to purge Swat of terrorists. Almost every day, cases of extreme women’s rights abuses come up, and corruption rumours continue to swirl around the province’s major players.

Unfortunately, the fact that these issues remain unaddressed is not entirely the ANP’s fault. The ANP is the only party in government that has already managed to accomplish all of the goals in its election manifesto but one.

The ANP did not come to power promising an end to terrorism or corruption. Their only agenda was the name of their province. After all, why use geographic markers when you can have a polarising local language name instead?

Unfortunately for the province though, their only real choices were the ANP, the (locally) much weaker PPP, or remnants of the reactionary group that served up Swat on a silver platter to the militants. Not much of a choice.

While the PML-N and PTI are at least trying to expand their vote banks, the ANP is still consolidating its ‘stronghold’. This is not good for the people of the province, as limiting the appeal of the party to the province, and even then, only one ethnic group of the province, is bad for the Hazarewals, bad for other Pakistanis, and eventually, bad for the Pakhtuns.

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

A sub-editor on the Islamabad city pages of The Express Tribune, Vaqas holds a Master's degree in IR from Iqra University. Before joining ET, he taught history and was also a member of the editorial staff at Blue Chip Magazine. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

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

  • Topak Khan

    ANP government is corrupt thanks to Hotis but saying ANP did not do any thing is just plain and simple stupid.Recommend

  • Shaaka

    Apparently, 500 ANP activists, including 2 sitting ministers, being killed by the militants isn’t enough for the blogger.
    The ANP has taken a brave stand against the militants. This talk of handing Swat over on a platter is ridiculously ill-informed. The ANP had initially called for a military operation, Rah-e-Haq, which the Army had turned into a joke.Recommend

  • AN

    I don’t think ANP cares about expanding their vote bank to other provinces. For them KP is enough and maybe they know that how they are perceived in other provinces. So why try? :)

    As for their work in KP, well they have changed name. Isn’t that enough? :) However people have difficulty in pronouncing it and they are not liking it so they have started their struggle again for……..name. Recommend

  • Abid

    Belonging from Hazara myself,I tend to agree with the writer.Recently I had to move to Mardan because of my job and it was a complete cultural shock.Those who go at lengths trying to justify that Hazarawals are Pathans stand no chance.Its a complete cultural shock for me.The language,literacy level,attitudes,temperament (u name it) is completly different in both the regions.And it hurts when you consider that more literate and cultured population of Hazara is sidelined by majority population of the province.A seperate province is the way to go bcoz even local government jobs in Hazara are assigned to Pathans as they have “contacts”in Peshawar.I think Imran K has got a glorius chance in Hazara atleast…A bit of tweaking to PTI’s policy in this region and he could cash in !Recommend

  • Awais

    ANP will not win the next election. KP is the only province that doesn’t follow the single party rule.

    Punjab = PML (X)|
    Sindh = MQM (Karachi), PPP (Rest)
    Balochitan = Feudals.

    The people keep changing the governmetnt here, in an attempt to satisfy their needs. As a local, I can definately say PTI may take the assembly, or atleast demolish whatever strength the ANP had. Their strongholds are not numerous. They only have loyalty in Charsadda and Mardan.Recommend

  • Qaisrani

    The writers seems to me as naive when he says ANP did nothing for the province.Yes i do agree but for me they have done sacrifices not only for province but for Pakistan over all.They stood against and suffered lot of casualties in the war on terror against the religious zealots.This only one act is worth praising.I can remember Bashir Bilour standing tall at all the occasions and challenging the terrorists for their cowardly acts.Mian Iftikhar Hussain is an example as he lost his son in this war.Their bravery will always be remembered.Similarly the people are bit impatient too.They keep high expectations and then get disappointed very soon without considering the situation.The province was worst hit and it was impossible to fight terror and develop the province in the aftermath of floods last year together.
    Similarly for me,demand for Hazara province solely based on ethnic issue is erroneous.For me,although the province should have been renamed as Hazar pakhtunkha,yet they enjoy more job opportunities than Pakhtoons.One of my friend above mentioned that local jobs are being stolen by Pashtuns as they have contacts in Peshawar thats why they demand province is strange.For me they are more educated than Pashtuns and in all federal jobs they get more share than their population whenever the quota is for the whole province bet it CSS or anything else. Similarly all industry is very close to Hazara region,be it Taxila,Wah Cantt,they are economically sound people.
    Between this,i am not Pushtun.I am from Saraikistan and we want our separation from Central Punjab only because they have plundered us for years.South is the most neglected part of country even.Give us our due share and we will not demand an other province.It’s all about economic and social justice which bind the people together. Recommend

  • CB Guy

    @ Qiasrani: hailing from Abbottabad, i can tell you that Abid is right. Hazara university had even the Orderlies employed from Peshawer. The government has no interest in hazara, the chief minister came to the region once in nearly 4 years. As for the name, NWFP is fine and dandy. I do not support any provinces on the basis of linguistics, be it hazara, saraiki or any other. people should get their due share. Recommend

  • Qaisrani

    @GB Guy.

    I am OK with your argument.Distribution of resources should be equitable.

    Give the people their due rights and they will not demand new provinces.Justice must prevail.

    We all are Pakistanis and above all the humans.So we must respect each other and strive together against few Pakistani elite that has plundered us collectively irrespective of their ethnic bindings.Recommend

  • Usman

    I strongly condemned media for not giving proper coverage to Jamat Islami jalsa in peshawar.It was a very big jalsa.Anchor persons should notice this also….?But No matter media covers Jamaat e Islami or not, we can see ourselves what is happening on the ground. We are proud to be workers of Jamaat e Islami Pakistan. Salute to Jamaat e Islami Peshawar. We will, by the grace of Almighty Allah and support of our companion workers, face this challenge that came in front of us because of undue and irresponsible boycott from Electronic Media.Recommend