Is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa better off than NWFP?

Published: July 6, 2010

The name change has only yielded political satisfaction for a paticular party

“Why was naming our province Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the course of ANP’s tenure so crucial?” I have asked my father repeatedly and consequently got into long discussions on why NWFP just had be renamed. Was this the issue that surpassed all our other problems? I don’t think so. When I asked several colleagues the same question one said, “I don’t think I care whether it’s called KPK or NWFP. We’re knee-deep in a serious crisis that needed to be tackled first. This could have been addressed later.”

Over all, the name change was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the pro-Pakhtunkhwa population but has faced a resistence from the Hazara community. What is most disconcerting is that instead of bringing harmony to the province, the new name has led to further bloodshed and acts of terrorism. The government, certainly, has been trying to bridge the resulting gap between the two ethnic groups but that feat has been a hard one to achieve. The government has a long way to go before the grievances of the Hindko-speaking minority can be resolved. 

Furthermore, KPK is home to several different linguistic groups. Pakhtuns are the majority but to deny the Hazaras, Chitralis and the Saraiki-speaking belt their own identity has been a mistake at par with none the recent government has committed.  

While it was undeniably necessary that the province and its population have a representative name just like all the other provinces in the country, the decision was taken emotionally and not rationally. The magnitude of the change should have been foreseen and planned before being implemented. I wouldn’t be wrong if I said the government has been stumped by the amount of work accompanied with a simple name change. It has been a huge monetary loss and has had  effected government institutions, colleges, schools, passports and identity cards.

With the Taliban still plaguing Swat and the surrounding areas, illiteracy rising, next to no resources, and a plethora of other issues the name change has brought no relief to the masses – except for maybe satisfying the political ground of one particular party. Why, than, shouldn’t NWFP or KPK as it is called now, be the seat of further unrest and collapse?

Now, if the government is done celebrating the newly-acquired name of the province, and self-satisfied political leaders are done with erecting congratulatory billboards claiming that this is the greatest accomplishment of all times perhaps they start concentrating on the more important problems at hand.

Bushra Maheen Rahman

Bushra Maheen Rahman

A doctor from Peshawar who writes, blogs at www.pistaye.wordpress and tweets @MaheenRahman

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

  • Maryam

    I agree with you on this, the reason for agreeing is not that I belong to Hazara , but it is why to wake up another issue when we already have millions to handle. Even my pakhtun friends and collegues are against this name change.
    we have a million issues to handle so instead of celebrating the name change the provincial government should tackle them.
    Nobody cares except for the ANP about their so called achievement.Recommend

  • http://Charsadda Ghafar Ali

    Only the abbrevation have been changed from NWFP to KP. The KP (Kha Pee in Urdu) could better reflect the aspirations of the ANP leadership who are interested more in Kha Pee (Eat and Drink) than solving the real issue of the people.

    Biased and prejudices aside we have to acknloedge one great feat of the KP government after changing the name of the province and that is bringing the province top on the list of the corrupt.Recommend

  • Aftab Siddiqui

    Atleast, I and the people I know still calls it Sarhad, I don’t care about any change these ANP morons have made for their own good. They just have created divide for no reason.Recommend

  • Absar

    I concur with the author. It cost Pakistan Rs. 8 billion to change the name of NWFP to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

    No offense meant to any of the avid supporter of the new name. But what’s more important, I ask: the reduction of poverty and to supply food to those impoverished people desperately yearning to have at least one bite of bread before going to sleep at night — or the name change of province? During the time of such distress and desperate strait when Pakistan is suffering from hellishly massive budgetary difficulties and other day-to-day financial problems, my moral understanding doesn’t allow me to strand the impoverished and approve the “name change” costing Rs. 8 billion.

    What more big and hypocritical is the fat fact that we call ourselves an Islamic nation — “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan. How about that real Islam when Hazrat Omar RA said: I’m responsible for the death of even a dog who dies of hunger at the bank of river Nile.Recommend

  • Schazad

    I am all for Khyber Pukhtonkhwa. People who are just bickering about other problems, will be doing the same for ever. I don’t deny the fact that we have all the other issues but name change was one of the most important one too. It gave us identity being a Pakistani Pukhton.Recommend

  • Erfan Afghan

    Not an Issue but why wouldn’t you change their province name? NWFP isn’t a name. So glad that they have changed the name.Recommend

  • Wazi Swazi

    First, I am not Pashtun or Hazara, but I speak Pashto and lived among them. I think that the name change is very important phenomenon for Identity Recognition. Identity Recognition will allow revival, development and sharing of culture, language and values. Since Pashtuns have shared their values with minority like Hazaras, Afghan Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbecks and Turkmen and Seriakis for centuries, I think that the minorities should be respectful, supportive, and facilitating Pashtun Identity. The foundation of every society is that minorities live in coexistence with values of majority. If I live in any society, I will certain live by standards that are created by the majority, but this does not mean that any standards should be acceptable. Strengthening Pashtuns will make life much easier for others than weakening them.Recommend

  • Faizullah Jan

    I am amazed at the logic behind opposing the renaming of our province as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “What is most disconcerting is that instead of bringing harmony to the province, the new name has led to further bloodshed and acts of terrorism.” Yes, it has not brought harmony to our province, but is there any harmony in any other province of Pakistan. No, we are not better off in many respects, but it does not mean that the renaming is responsible for this. And how can you connect terrorism to the renaming. Terrorism is a lingering issue having nothing to do with this.
    Pakistan was created out of India in 1947 so that “Muslims have their own homeland where they can lead their lives freely according to their religion,” so had said the Quaid-i-Azam. But we see no freedom and no peace. Muslims in India have more peace and freedom to worship in their mosques without any fear of a suicide bomber or grenade attack. Furthermore, millions of people lost their lives and still millions had to cross borders on both sides. Does it warrant that the making of Pakistan was a non-starter because we are not better off?Recommend

  • Imran

    I disagree with you, nationalism and psychological, intangible impact of name is deep.

    What is in a name…why all the traditional street names in Karachi changed ???? If it doesn’t matter….why Montgomery changed to Sahiwal, why Layalpur changed to Faisalabad ?????? Why we have Shahrah e Faisal why not Shahrah e Bhagat Singh ????

    What is in a name !!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • SadafFayyaz

    If you call Kulfi mango ice cream. will it become mango ice cream? I wrote something some weeks back on this…transforms into something satirical….

  • rehman

    punjab was named punjan because of the five rivers,,,sindh was named after darayay sind.only baluchinstan was named after the baluchis…it is a wrong perception.the people of punjab and sind are named after thier province and not vice versa.Recommend

  • Rehman

    To be frank, I’m not feeling comfortable with this funny and long new name, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for the erstwhile Frontier province of Pakistan. I didn’t like the former N… W… F… P… as well. There should be a modern and easy new name!Recommend

  • hammadjan


  • Shahbaz

    As the Province “Sarhad” changed into KPK our social communities raised storm in a tea cup,what does it mae difference to Hazara n Chitralies folks,al are haring on the same string and what happened nmae has been changed and the charter of ANP ben accomplished now,the prob is that bring out yourselves into this dilemma and suggest a few suggestions the so-called ANP to executed such steps to bringout KPK on the way of success.Recommend

  • H Saqib

    I think ANP has solved all the problems of Pashtuns by giving them a name according to the dreams of opponents of Pakistan. In order to solve the problems of rest of Pakistan, name of the country should also be changed.Recommend

  • Hasan Sheikh

    Well, the title itself suggests something similar to …’Is Bushra Maheen Rehman better off than Embryo/Baby/Kid/Girl/Lady’ ?

    No offense but why on earth would you rather spend your time using up Tribune’s space on something which really shouldn’t be made debatable in the first place. If I live in Lahore, I’d rather want it to be named Lahore than any other fancy name given by somebody alien to me.

    I support the right of Pakhtuns or any other Pakistani ethnicity to have its identity recognized and well appreciated. Be it Hazara-wal, Saraikis, potoharis, or any other regionally-bound-want-to-get-recognized lot. That will strenghthen Pakistan than any thing else. Please recognize, the people of this homeland of ours are freedom-lovers and ‘biradree-influenced’ by instinct. They ought not to be suppressed. The go by clan identity and take pride in it.

    Pakhtuns are most vivid in that context and most unfortunate ironically, as they were denied the basic right of fundamental importance to them for ages.

    Travel from one end of Punjab to the other and you will see every 40 miles, you get a totally different version of Punjabi, totally different variety of culture, and above all a distinct sense of uniqueness to the area. Let alone a province, just visit Rawalpindi division, there are different words of Punjabi used every in every district. Such is the variation i the spectrum of cultural life in whole of this country. That makes me an advocate of district to district autonomy. Let peoples/ clans/ biradrees/ be in-charge of their own lives, let them decide their own ways forward.

    Long Live and Long LOVE Pakistan!!!Recommend

  • John

    After the collapse of Soviet Union, Leningrad was renamed as St. Petersberg. In many East-European countries the legacy of Soviet Union in the form of Stalin, Lenin statues was replaced. Similiarly, many aid-donating agencies are supporting countries to preserve their own identity, heritage. NWFP was a name given by British Neo-colonialists and the real name of the whole region, i.e from Chitral to Bolan, was historically Pakhtunkhwa. Please refer to Ahmad Shah Durrni’s times and also, Mohammad Hotak in his Hidden Treasure (Patta Kazana) names the region as Pashtunkhwa. So, the renaming, or in true terms, returning back to origin, is a quality that only ALIVE NATIONS and its leadership has. It is the best ever thing this present government has done, also the FATA, and Balochistan’s Pakhtuns should be reunited as a single province. About riots: Only in Mansehra and Abbottabad the riots were seen, and don’t forget, that area is a stronghold of pro-dictator, pro-establishment party of Pakistan, known as Pakistan’s Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif group). In Chitral nothing was seen like that. In Dera Ismail Khan nothing was observed. So riots were a political drama created by Muslim League or Punjab’s Radical Party.
    Pakhtuns are the most black-fated people of Pakistan. They have always been under strong control of army. For last 40 years, as I am teaching Politics of Central and South Asia, I have noticed that these people are under strong aggression. They should know their identity and work hard for their survival, within a TRUE federation or out of it. Recommend

  • malik arif khan

    yes offcorse and coz we get our name as kpk
    this is the real name of this state and all the cridit goes to A.N.P for it,

  • Biogene

    I think the writer missed the very beginning title “is naming has some relationship with solving problems????????????? or it just gives identity to some one/ something?
    It suits very well here
    “”Great Minds Discuss Ideas; Average Minds Discuss Events; Small Minds Discuss People.””Recommend

  • Umer Khan Jadoon

    Hazara is not a community or a tribe it a region
    so better not to use Hazaras, Hazaras are something elseRecommend

  • Faizullah Jan

    Eat your hearts out! We are Pakhtunkhwa, and Pakhtunkhwa Zinda Abad!Recommend

  • Shahzad

    Go focus on something constructive if this name change doesn’t bring any good. Its done, now move along, or unless you would like it to be changed again, which would be a contradiction.
    Its such a hard pill to swallow, aint it, you stuck up.Recommend

  • nazarrabi

    niver trust these panjabi hinko long live pashtuns our aim is to unit pashtuns long live pakhtun khwa long live afghanistanRecommend

  • AA

    Poor economy, militancy, ethnic clashes…these bunch of retarded mindsets came up with nothing except a name change after fighting like children, a name which cant even be pronounced easily…I have seen ppl in media have started calling it now KPK…better they should have started calling it Subah ‘X’Recommend

  • Afzal Rahim

    The debate on renaming the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) concerns the identity of its people and their place in the federation of Pakistan. The issue was to provide identity to its majority Pakhtun population. Read more: NWFP to PakhtunkhwaRecommend

  • kashif afridi

    i don,t like that name. i like pukhtoonistanRecommend

  • Adil Nawaz Khan

    @Biogene::People depict their culture, events and civilization which led to an idea of giving them a name.
    we have our history, our culture our own civilization and we deserve a name. A name of our choice,now dont let me give you examples. So better discuss people and their ideas.Recommend