LINGUISTICS AND NEW PROVINCES
By: Abdul Khalique Junejo.
This is with reference to Dr. Tarique Rahman’s article ‘Linguistics and new provinces’ dated: 09th July, 2009 wherein he has suggested creation of more provinces in Pakistan on linguistics bases citing the example of India. The first thing demanding mention here is that Sindh and other federating units are not only the administrative units. Hence cannot be divided just for the sake of administrative efficiency. Pakistan is a multinational country and different regions constituting Pakistan are homes to peoples living there for thousands of years acquiring in the process distinct identity, culture and language and developing specific culture.
It is true that Britishers drew provincial boundaries according to their economic interests and administrative needs. So if any action is needed to make amends, it should be taken. But it should be aimed to blur the artificial boundaries and create natural units. This is exactly what India has done. And language is not, and should not be, the only criterion for existence/creation of such natural units. Culture, history and geography (land) are also the necessary ingredients.
Judged on there criteria, the suggestions about creation/re- adjustment of Pakhtunkhawa, Hindko and Seraiki units feels nearer to the reality but Sindh is totally a different case. Here seraiki needs special mention because whenever there is a demand for seraiki province, some people start talking about division of Sindh and creation of a separate province for Mohajirs. People of seraiki belt have been living on their own land for centuries with distinct language and culture of their own. This area became part of the Punjab only when Ranjit Singh conquered it in the early 19th Century. Before that, throughout history, it had remained either a separate province or part of Sindh.
On the other hand Mohajirs, as the term transpires, are refugees. And refugees by all standards, international law and historical evidence, have to follow either of the two paths; return to their ancestral homes or merge with the population of the host country. If Sindh allowed more Mohajirs to settle on its soil, it does not deserve to be “rewarded” with the calls for its division. One hopes that Mohajirs themselves, being GOOD PEOPLE, would not intend to cut the land that gave them refuge.
One “aim of the linguistic division” according to Dr. Tarique Rehman “is to prevent Punjab from dominating the smaller federating units…”. But the blunt fact of life is that not the size of Punjab but the character of the state of Pakistan and punjab’s role in it is the real cause of Punjab’s domination over other units. If size were the real source of power, then Bengalis would have dominated Pakistan before 1971 when they were in the majority and there would have been no Bangladesh. It is the colonial nature/character of the state and Punjab’s dominant role, through bureaucracy and military, in it that has been dictating the things in Pakistan which needs correction on priority basis.
Dr. Rehman himself seems not sure and convinced about the results of his suggested solution when he says; “If creating several smaller federating units can reduce ethnic tensions and increase efficiency then this is what we should be considering seriously”. The most glaring example of such solution is the land of Palestine. First refugees were brought there from different parts of the world as “oppressed” and “persecuted” people. Then they divided Palestine “to avoid tension and violence”. The result is there for everyone to see; it has not only brought violence, death and destruction of unparalleled magnitude to the land of Palestine but it has proved to be the greatest threat to the peace of the region and the entire world. Even the division of the subcontinent has raised many questions in this regard.
So the lesson of the history is that do not seek easy and simple solutions to the complex, compound and complicated problems concerning the lives of the generations of people.
Lawyer and Chairman Long Live Sindh Front
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