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    Sarhad 100 years on

    http://www.dawn.com/weekly/dmag/dmag7.htm

    NWFP centenary: how best to celebrate


    By Dr Mohammad Ishaq

    It is gratifying to know that the government of NWFP is celebrating the year 2002 as the centenary of the creation of North West Frontier Province, commonly known as Frontier or Sarhad.

    Though I am not personally against celebrations of any kind as a source of pleasure for the common man, but I am not quite sure about the rationale and spirit behind this particular one.

    As a person who hails from this region, I feel most disappointed to note that though it has been a hundred years since its creation and 54 years since Independence, the province still carries the old colonial name and remains without a proper identity. This is an unfortunate situation which questions the reasons for the celebration. The British Raj gave this name to the newly-created province, as it represented the north west frontier of their Indian Empire. It bears no geographical, political, social or cultural relevance to Pakistan - a sovereign federal state.

    The name of a place has great relevance. It reflects the historic, ethnic, political and socio-cultural background of the people and the land. It gives the inhabitants an identity which enjoys public acceptance and popularity.

    Geographically, Pakistan comprise the western part of the subcontinent, but, obviously, if our country was named in context with its geographical position in the region, it would not have satisfied our national objectives. The name of Pakistan has given us - the Muslims of the subcontinent - a distinct identity. This name is a source of distinction for us. The names of the three other provinces of Pakistan also fall into this description. NWFP is not, and will never become, a popular name. It, therefore, needs to be changed. The best way to celebrate the centenary year would be to adopt an acceptable and appropriate name for this province.

    I am aware of the fact that vested interests and the incapability of politicians to reach a consensus are the major hindrances in tackling this issue, which can later assume the status of a political controversy. The present government has taken major steps towards national reconstruction. Let this be another such step. The government should set up a committee comprising intellectuals and sociologists, representing all parts of the province, to come up with a name acceptable to all. This activity should be a part of the centenary celebrations. While the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon carved his name in the history by creating the province, President Musharraf can earn the same distinction by renaming the province.

    This charge is overdue, and it is better to be late than never. A sovereign state should not carry colonial stigmas. We have a glorious past, and it is time we revive our dignity and honour.

    The other major disappointment is the fact that 54 years have passed since independence and the province is still divided between settled and non-settled (tribal) areas. After independence, continuation of the tribal belt has no justification. This is another Raj legacy which needs to be done away with. After all, the people of the Tribal Areas have the same religious, ethnic and cultural background and same political future. Why should they be separated? The reasons for this division prevalent during the Raj days do not apply any more.

    Another major part of centenary celebrations should be the abolition of Tribal Areas and their merger with the province, if not at once, then through a timeframe. By taking these two constitutional steps, the government will make the centenary historic and meaningful. It will also complete the agenda of the independence, which meant equal rights to all the citizens of Pakistan - from Torkham to Karachi.

    Though I am a democrat, but looking at the history of Pakistan one realizes that such revolutionary steps were only taken by the Military regimes. It was President Yahya Khan who merged the states of Dir, Chitral and Swat with NWFP, and gave equal rights to their inhabitants. General Ziaul Haq changed the colonial names of Campbel Pur to Attock, Montgomery to Sahiwal and Layal Pur to Faisalabad.

    It is worth mentioning that the people of NWFP joined Pakistan through a direct vote in the referendum. After independence, its people have made significant contributions in the progress and defence of the country. For the past 23 years, the province is facing serious social and economic hardships due to the Afghan crisis. Though rich in natural resources, it remains poor and primitive because of the lack of political will.

    Our pride, however, lies in self-respect, hospitality, courage and struggle. The hardworking people of the Frontier can be found all over Pakistan and the rest of the world, keeping their culture and traditions alive. Unfortunately, the name NWFP does not reflect the rich heritage of the region - it only reminds us of the British Raj, which still haunts us.

    How can a man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his fathers and the Temple of his Gods?

    #2
    Zakk excellent article..

    Where do you stand on this issue?

    I believe that NWFP is indeed a vestige of our colonial past and should be renamed. The problem arises when we begin to come up with names. Sarhad itself may be neutral but it is nothing but a geographical distinction. Pakhtunkhwa (Pashtunkhwa) has polarized the Hinkians of Hazara and the Pashto speakers. So one name fits the bill: Afghania. I read an article by a author who hails from the province, giving excellent points (can dig it out if needed). Basically naming NWFP as Afghania would fulfill the 'A' in Pakistan, likely to be accepted by most residents and there is precedent for it. I mean there are 2 Baluchistans, 2 Punjabs, 2 Bengals then why not Afghanistan and Afghania?

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    The eyelids of a Rajputs eyes are lowered only in death.

    Comment


      #3
      The Author made the point that the tribal areas should be assimilated with the province. What he fails to mention, is how in the world he expects the govt to do that in light of all resistnce the tribals would put up by the very suggestion.
      Also, Afghania is a cool name, but how about Gandhar? Its historical, and gives people a good impression. People would want to see a place called Gandhar, it sounds appealing and many people will associate it with Gandhar kingdom. More people then ever would want to see the province. Toursim would sky rocket.

      Comment


        #4
        Well, the name issue was hyped up when the Awami National Party, one of the leading parties in the NWFP joined hands with Nawaz Sharif and demanded a change in name after they come to power for their support... Nawaz won, but he didnt accept ANP's proposal. The name they had selected 'Pakhtunkhwa' was only meant for a particular clan, ignoring the rest... The ANP then parted ways with the Nawaz Govt and ever since then this name issue has been silenced, despite many people coming up with their own suggestions and historical references...

        I personally vouch for the name 'Khyber' as it highlights the landmark Khyber Pass with all its history and has no discrmination between the clans...

        [This message has been edited by Spock (edited June 16, 2002).]

        Comment


          #5
          Salam RF and others!

          I am personally in favour of the name Afghania, Pakhtunkhwa is not understood by all people, I do not though subscribe to the name...I see no objection if the provincial assembly passes a overwhelming majority bill in favour of renaming it anything else. It's a provincial issue and should be left as such.
          After all Sindh and Punjab are not overwhelmingly punjabi or sindhi, but the name of the majority and the indigenous inhabitants has been kept. Pashtuns represent some 77% of Sarhads present population, probably 90% including the tribal areas.
          How can a man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his fathers and the Temple of his Gods?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Zakk:
            Salam RF and others!

            I am personally in favour of the name Afghania, Pakhtunkhwa is not understood by all people, I do not though subscribe to the name...I see no objection if the provincial assembly passes a overwhelming majority bill in favour of renaming it anything else. It's a provincial issue and should be left as such.
            After all Sindh and Punjab are not overwhelmingly punjabi or sindhi, but the name of the majority and the indigenous inhabitants has been kept. Pashtuns represent some 77% of Sarhads present population, probably 90% including the tribal areas.
            Good point

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Zakk:
              Salam RF and others!

              I am personally in favour of the name Afghania, Pakhtunkhwa is not understood by all people, I do not though subscribe to the name...I see no objection if the provincial assembly passes a overwhelming majority bill in favour of renaming it anything else. It's a provincial issue and should be left as such.
              After all Sindh and Punjab are not overwhelmingly punjabi or sindhi, but the name of the majority and the indigenous inhabitants has been kept. Pashtuns represent some 77% of Sarhads present population, probably 90% including the tribal areas.
              Wa'Salaam Zakk

              I'm glad that you see the matter as a provincial one. Khyber, Gandhara, Afghania all work and it should be the people who should decide. I think it was a good idea to get rid of Montgomery, Campbellpur and Lyallpur, so NWFP should be next.



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              The eyelids of a Rajputs eyes are lowered only in death.

              Comment


                #8
                Well, i hate to throw sour points in the dreams of what to call NWFP in the future...

                but if the govt of Pakistan was embodied in me, i'd focus first on figuring out ways that NWFP can contribute better to the nat'l economy, giving frontier women the rights they deserve, and giving poor frontier individuals a better future.
                I believe in dragons, good men, and other fantasy creatures.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by PyariCgudia:
                  Well, i hate to throw sour points in the dreams of what to call NWFP in the future...

                  but if the govt of Pakistan was embodied in me, i'd focus first on figuring out ways that NWFP can contribute better to the nat'l economy, giving frontier women the rights they deserve, and giving poor frontier individuals a better future.
                  Well, it IS an issue. Apparently, residents of NWFP consider it to be an irritant, so you or I don't have the choice to stimpulate WHAT they should be concerned about. It is their province and if its called Afghania, Gandhara whatever, it isn't for us to decide. Remember, if the federal govt does anything to reject demands of Sarhadis, itll become another Punjab bashing session.

                  As for the rights of women and economic progress for NWFP, of course I agree. I don't think thats even in debate. If changing the name of NWFP is conducive to Pashto/Hindko speakers satifacation then why not?

                  Pashtuns one of the most independent and proudest people of the region seeing their province be called by the BRITISH colonist name, surely draws their anger and I would agree that it is justified. Just about every city has had their british names dropped to a more local name, NWFP should be next.



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                  The eyelids of a Rajputs eyes are lowered only in death.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    RF, you bring up a good point. The Federal government, by any law should not have anything to do with what's entirely a provicnial issue. More importantly, the federal government by it's nature should not be representative of one province, it is the representative of all provinces. If a smaller province ever feels discrimination by the Federal government is actually the big province going against it, then the federal government has failed in it's constituitional duty of being a federation
                    How can a man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his fathers and the Temple of his Gods?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Zakk:
                      RF, you bring up a good point. The Federal government, by any law should not have anything to do with what's entirely a provicnial issue. More importantly, the federal government by it's nature should not be representative of one province, it is the representative of all provinces. If a smaller province ever feels discrimination by the Federal government is actually the big province going against it, then the federal government has failed in it's constituitional duty of being a federation
                      Thanks.

                      The goal here is to make everyone from NWFP feel good about their province and in extention, Pakistan.

                      I think hate perpetuates hate and we should end it as soon as possible. Having NWFP called anything different will not change my perceptions of the province or its people, so clearly it should not be a problematic issue.



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                      The eyelids of a Rajputs eyes are lowered only in death.

                      Comment

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