Sunday, March 19, 2017
March 19, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
President Donlad Trump’s advent in the political arena from an entirely non-political and business background and winning the presidency of the United States is a unique phenomenon. Lately he has owed this brilliant achievement to his Tweeting obsession. Yet strangely he is engulfed in a massive tsunami and colossal plethora of crises, scandals and controversies. Following the oath taking on February 2 this year, he has already stashed away 59 days out of the first 100 day in office. He is left with 49 days from today onwards to set the things rights. Thus, far president Trump has signed 17 executive orders and 12 memoranda some of which are either challenged or repudiated both by the people and the government agencies.
The cardinal truth is that Donald Trump is a sincere person but his temperament is not. He is an economic wizard and mostly he has not been politically correct or earnest. Compromise, conciliations or bending backwards are not part of his political strategy or mindset. He excels and relishes in rebukes, retaliations and spurring non-issues as big issues. Once he takes a stand whether right or wrong, he sticks to it no matter what could be the ground realities and consequences.
Even a novice and nincompoop politician would not antagonize the press and judiciary. Yet he went aggressively in denouncing both the media and the judiciary because they differed with his executive orders and projections. United States is truly a democratic state where press, judiciary and other institutions play their roles honestly and truthfully although in Media there are always pro and anti-establishment views. But that is what is required of the media in any country.
Some of these executive orders have become highly controversial and subject to the scrutiny of the senate and the house. The replacement of Obamacare (known as Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), is already being opposed on countrywide scale through long marches and even otherwise. Of late there is some compromise demonstrated by president himself and his advisors to retain some provisions of the Obamacare in the original draft of their healthcare plan. The Trump administration is deliberating on replacement of Obamacare with the "World's Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017". This plan has been sponsored by Pete Sessions; the current chairman of the House Rules Committee. According to Reuter’s report, “Republicans remain deeply divided over their U.S. healthcare overhaul, which is Trump's first major legislative initiative and aims to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal and replace the healthcare program (known as Obamacare) of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.”
The cabinet appointments have become controversial. Trump’s National Security Advisor Retired Army Lieutenant General, Michael T. Flynn had to resign for misleading key government’s top officials, media and the people about the nature of his telecommunication contacts with the Russian diplomats. Flynn remained as the National Security Advisor just for 24 days which is the shortest in the history of the office.
President Trump’s appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to step aside from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under intense scrutiny after reports surfaced that he had contacts with Russian government officials during the 2016 Presidential election. Neil Gorsuch the newly appointed judge on the supreme court panel will have to go through a grueling session tomorrow (at the Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearings)
Trump’s tweeted allegation of wiretapping of the Trump Tower against his predecessor Barack Obama should have been a non-issue and could even be baseless as being commonly believed. This allegation has put Trump in a tight corner because it is not a small allegation. It is a manifestation of distrust about his successor president Obama. Apparently, nothing could be far-fetched that this allegation which has already been refuted by FBI and other concerned agencies as hollow of truth. It is being conjectured that president Trump hurled this charge to deflect the public attention from other controversial issues
The downslide of president Trump’s package of reforms started with the Immigration Executive Order banning immigrants from 7 Islamic countries which later was reduced to six countries. That put the judiciary and the president face to face with each. Judiciary came to the rescue of the crowds of stranded immigrants on the American airports. Mercifully A federal judge in Seattle James Robart moved to rescue thousands of stranded individuals and families by placing a nationwide block on Trump’s week-old executive order. Despite that, president trump intends to fight back in favor of his immigration ban though by making some minor changes.
The other controversial issues that have surfaced are president Trump’s personal business relations with Russians especially president Putin. His family’s business and the involvement of -president Trump in that is yet another sticking point that might come to fore in due course of time.
Despite transferring his business to his sons and even wife, the questions would be raised if he is still influencing the business in favor of their family and partners. The sex scandals related to president Trump are still on the back burner. But if the affected women pursue such cases there might be another judicial fight to rescue himself from these true or untrue accusations
The most outstanding issue is the hacking of 2016 presidential elections. God forbid if behind the door links of cohorts of the president and even himself are proved then one could imagine the serious consequences emanating from such an outcome. The hacking of the 2016 elections mostly blamed on Russian hackers in favor president Trump is the trickiest issue that could tilt either way.
While wishing president Trump well and his continuation in the prestigious office of the president of United States, one would doubt that all the cases or allegations against him would prove to be false and he can continue with his road map of strengthening America in all respects. In the meantime, let us watch as to what happens to this legal and constitutional battling that might continue for quite some time. Finally, he should not depend too much on tweeting. This is mostly the pastime of the young generation and should not be overly used to convey political matters and decisions, all the more for the president of a mighty country.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
A Chapter from my upcoming Book: I was Born at Taxila
March 12, 2017By Saeed Qureshi
Lawrence College is one of the illustrious and the most prestigious residential educational institutions in the sub-continent. The other such educational institutions are Petaro Military College in Punjab, Sarai Aalamgir College in Jhelum Punjab, Petaro in Sindh province and Cadet College at Hasan Abdal near the capital of Pakistan Islamabad.
Lawrence College at Ghora Gali is a place some ten miles short of actual city of Murree and isolated in the maze of thick forests for which one had to traverse an ascending serpentine road on foot. There was another bus stop before the actual stop of Bansra Gali. It was Ghora Gali. Although the college carries the name of Ghora Gali, in effect it is built along the Bansra Gali road which branches off from the main highway between Islamabad and the Murree Hills.
The distance between Ghora Gali and Bansra Gali should be about 6 miles. Being totally unaware of the environment and the real destination. On my first visit for the initial interview I mistakenly alighted at Ghora Gali and went into a forest rest house that was quite far my actual destination. There I was told by someone about location of the Lawrence college. Then I came to know that I had landed at a wrong place.
There was another detour from behind the hills of Bansra Gali than ran through the Murree Brewery buildings destroyed during the 1947 partition fiasco. It was situated between Ghora Gali and Bansra Gali. The burned building still looked silhouetted along the slopes of the ridge. It was steep climb up for about two hours. When one would reach the precincts of the Famous College it would be first the senior school that he or she would see before him. Murree Brewery was later recommissioned and is ever since making Beer which is called “Murree Brewery Beer”.
Lawrence College was one of most sought after educational institutions for the parents for a variety of reasons. It offered serene, healthy and unpolluted atmosphere to the residents. It was panoramic and resplendent with natural beauty. It was isolated from the din and noise of the cities. It was residential and was established in the finest traditions of the British educational systems.
Since 1860 to the present year 2017(157 years) there have been 29 principals of the college. The college is run on the military pattern with houses to be commanded by each house master. The Principal is the head of the institution. Administratively the college is controlled by a Board of Governors. The Governor of the Punjab is the Chairman of the Board of Governors. There is also an executive committee whose chairman is the GOC of the 12th infantry division stationed at the city of Murree.
The college is divided into three sections. Each section is called school and has a separate head, self-contained buildings and a separate geographical entity. Since the whole building network and structures are built on the slope of the mountain ridge, these are in separation physical locations. On top is the junior school that is headed by a female principal. The Preparatory school is in the middle and is run by a headmaster.
The senior section which is situated in the lowest part of the mountain is a much larger building It is also headed by a headmaster. On top is the principal whose office at the senior school section. The classes at the junior school are from I to IV. This section caters for the age group 5 ½ to 9 ½ years and is headed by a Headmistress. In my time, there were 12 mistresses and 4 matrons. It prepares boys for the Preparatory School.
The classes in preparatory school are from V to VII. This section caters for the age group 9 ½ to 12 ½ years and is headed by a Headmaster. There were 8 Masters and 2 Mistresses and Matrons when I served there. At the end of class VII Promotion Examination the students pass out to go into the Senior School, Organization of house system forms the basis of all curricular and extra-curricular activities. The boys develop house affiliation and have a keen sense of competition.
Houses have independent common rooms. They have their organized excursions and inter-house competitions in sports, academics, debates, social activities and plays. The four houses that came into being in 1920 were named after the most distinguished principals. Their names are Witwhick, Wright, Peake, and Walker. In 1973 these names changed to Babar, Iqbal, Tipu and Jinnah that remained in vogue until 2010 when again the previous names were restored. its name was changed to Pine Hills College in 1973, Ghora Gali College in 1979 and then back to Lawrence College Ghora Gali Murree in 1986.
The teaching staff is provided free accommodation within the precincts of the college. Those who cannot cook at home can eat at the Staff Club. The Staff Club provides indoor and outdoor facilities such as snooker and bridge game and tennis courts. Each school has its own catering system with a banquet hall where the students assemble three times in a day: in the morning for breakfast, noon time for lunch and in the evening for dinner.
The school bus would take the staff members to Murree each weekend for shopping and for a free time to sip tea or eat out at the restaurants. This trek which is all steep ascension for about 6 miles is surrounded by lush green pine hill trees on both sides and replete with breath taking natural beauty. The return downward journey is also steep.
Like most of the houses in Murree Hills the houses, the barracks and rooms, are erected from the wooden planks. There were some houses also made from bricks and stones and offered to the senior teachers. The main buildings are all in the original shape and look majestic and imposing and remind one of the colonial grandeur of the British monarchy and height of glory. There is a specious convention hall for holding functions from banquets to literary events such as Mushaira and debates.
Countless alumnae of Lawrence college attained distinctions and fame in their respective fields later in life. Some of these luminaries are Gen. Shamim Alam Khan, Lt. Gen. Khan, Zafarullah (former Prime Minister), Khan, Mumtaz Bhutto, Aftab Sherpao, Shahid,Sarfraz Bugatti,Gulgee, Ikram and Ayaz Amir.
A Chapter from my upcoming Book: I was Born at Taxila
March 11, 2017
Lawrence College Ghora Gali in the Hindsight-First Part
By Saeed Qureshi
I served as a teacher in Lawrence College for seven years with two principals namely Lt Col(R) A. Hamid Ibrahim (1966–1973) and Brig.(R) Mohammad Rafiq (1973–1977). In the beginning, I was given a temporary ad-hoc job for three months and it terminated when the college closed for the winter vacations. The job was later advertised and I was also invited for an interview. The interview took place at Army library Rawalpindi. I was selected and was offered a permanent job. I was then hardly 25 years of age. In the beginning, because of my age, the students and many residents thought I was one of the students in the senior school.
I was the house master of Tipu house. The house worked very hard in games and literary competitions and even in behavior and thus was declared outstanding. A reception was held at the Preparatory school to celebrate that joyful occasion. It was participated by both the headmaster Mr. Muhammad Munir and the college principal Lt. Col(Retd) Ibrahim.
Mr. Munir was a thorough professional and a true academician. He hailed from the city of Sialkot and had been in the college for many years. A kind and courteous person as he was, he would not speak a harsh word to anyone in the staff meetings. He had run the preparatory school in the finest British traditions and was always there to help and guide the erring staff members as well as the new entrants as to how to conduct themselves. He would be dressed up properly and sit in his office facing the main playground and looking across the junior school that was about a furlong from the Preparatory schools building. At his house, we were invited several times for a tea party or dinner.
Mr. Munir was a chronic patient of the diabetes and would inject himself insulin during those times when the medical knowledge and treatment was at not at an advanced level as it is in the present times. He was an exceptionally tolerant person. Even his notes of warning or explanation to someone would be worded softly and in a very civilized diction.
In the subsequent times, I remained unaware and practically cut-off from going back to the college and know where my former colleagues. I had no information as to when Mr. Munir retired and who replaced him. But he had two very elegant sons who were also the students at Lawrence college. One was Mr. Basir who later rose to the high positions in accounts. His younger brother Naeem must have also been well settled in his career.
The unmarried teachers were given small cubicles that were attached to the students’ dormitories. There were a few residences which were allotted to the married teachers. Thus, one had to wait till someone was retired or moved out of the college. I lived in a bachelor accommodation consenting of two rooms: one as the bed room and the other sitting room. Later When I married in 1972 I was allotted full-fledged house- The house given to me was a nice self-contained house vacated by one of the teachers Zakir Hussain who was appointed as the Director General of Pakistan Sports Board.
In my time the faculty members numbering 32 or more were content with their residential conditions. It was like an extended family that would meet from time to time in such gatherings as farewell to a passing out class or the victory celebration by a house coming on top in all the vents from games to social presentations such a stage plays, Mushairas and other literary or game competitions.
In the evening, some of the staff members would gather in the college club to play the card game of bridge and would stay till late at night. Occasionally the principal Col Ibrahim would also participate and that would add to the dignity and glamor of the occasion. There were some excellent and expert plays of bridge who would seldom lose. One was late Maujood Khan from district Jhelum. The other teacher was Mr. Ajmal who prior to joining the preparatory section of the college had served as a teacher in the Middle East.
The supervisor of the preparatory school kitchen was Ghazan Khan. He was a retired subedar from the Pakistan army. He was an exceedingly lively and jolly good man with infinite capacity to talk injected with jokes and anecdotes from his military tenure. He was one of the most amiable person on the estate. He lived alone and was a skinny individual with a set of principles and habits that he would strictly follow and would expect others to follow. He was a still in the mindset of military discipline an even walk like a soldier.
He was friendly to everyone and was honest and ethical to the hilt. He was married but would visit his home town very rarely. During his lively and animated conversation, he would emit high sounding laughers that would warm up others’ hearts. Thus, a phase of exchange of jokes would follow and Mr. Ghazan Khan would finally excel. He had a son who was quite brilliant and held a post of eminence in Islamabad.
He had countless episodes to tell saved and preserved in his mind. He was a thoroughly moralist person and would never compromise on principles. Himself being the caterer with all kind of food delicacies and assortment of dishes, he would himself eat very little. He was kind yet firm with his kitchen staff that comprised mostly of the local people. One may call him an idealist as he would expect of teachers to be morally of very dignified caliber even during the conversations and mutual discussions. H would detest those who would eat voraciously and talk about small material gains in life.
At night, occasionally we would visit him and despite already gone into bed and ready to sleep, he would prepare green tea for us at that time of late night. Of the teachers that were knit together as close friends were Maulvi Saeed, Mr. Ajmal, Zakir Hussain Syed, Mr. Muhammad Hussain, Maojud Khan and myself.
From among us one of the longer serving staff members was Mr. Titus. He was a devout Christian by faith: He was undoubtedly, a gentleman by virtue with his mild temperament. Mr. Titus was living on the premises with his gracious wife and two sons. I was immensely impressed by the soft-spoken and mild disposition of Mr. Titus. When I would go to his house, his wife would serve tea and potatoes chips that she was an expert in making.
At weekends, I would to go to the plains to see my family in Wah Cantt. The journey was divided into several phases. From college, I would traverse a downward distance to reach the main road at Bansra Gali. From the roadside bus stop I would catch a bus that would take me to Rawalpindi.
From Rawalpindi I, would board another bus to travel another 30 miles to reach my destination in Wah Cantonment. Wah also known as Wah Ordnance Factories. From there another walk for 10 minutes and I would be with my family of three brothers and my mother. It was primarily for my mother that I would spend my weekends in Wah Cantonment.
On one occasion while returning to the college it became dark and no other individual was to be seen walking up or down on the detour road from the bus stop to the college. I had to climb up the winding link road which had seven bends. The atmosphere was totally scary. I started my ascending journey by taking long steps. When I reached in the middle of the road I saw from distance several red sparkling eyes. With a plethora of stories about spooks, evil spirits in my mind, I was indescribably frightened and was fearing some hidden creature pouncing upon me. However, I kept drawing near as even returning was futile
I kept getting closer to the glittering red spots in that pitch darkness. As I was walking I had the morbid fear of being attacked by either a wild animal like a tiger or some evil force. All of a sudden I saw that it was a cluster of cows that were left by the owner for overnight grazing. One can imagine the cool relief that had overtaken me. In a moment of fuzzy mindset, it was altogether a different scenario and I was certainly safe from the predators that could have been there either humans or wild animals or even a wicked creature.
In 1973 I was selected as a Third Secretary in the Pakistan Foreign Service. I had to, therefore, say goodbye to that marvelous friends and most agreeable place from where I started my career. After joining the Foreign Office, I went into an unending flurry of activities, beginning with our training at the Pakistan Administrative Staff College Lahore to my posting as a diplomat abroad.
Lawrence College was founded in 1860 during the British rule of the Indian subcontinent that continued between 1858 and 1947. It was named after Major General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence. It was on the recommendation of General Montgomery that four military-style asylums were established in the Indian subcontinent for the sons and daughters of the British soldiers. Of four such asylums, known as Lawrence Military Asylums, one is the Lawrence College Ghora Gali.
Lawrence College primarily caters for the children of the affluent and elitist classes (feudal, aristocratic, and military) of Pakistan. From military asylum, it was renamed as Lawrence College. It is a public educational institution cum boarding situated near panoramic Murree Hills at a height of about 6400 ft. Its distance from the nearest city in plains the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad is about 35 miles. To be continued
Saturday, March 4, 2017
March 4, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
It is a soothing news that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to “step aside from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States”. He made this announcement at a hastily called news conference held at the Justice Department today. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under intense scrutiny after reports surfaced that he had contacts with Russian government officials during the 2016 Presidential election.
Session’s main problem is that he is alleged to have met with Russian senior officials and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in United States during the 2016 elections. It is basically an issue of ethics, truthfulness and integrity that in the first instance why Sessions kept this meeting secret.
Secondly in response to the questions by the press reporters and the other competent authorities, he denied of having any meetings with the Russian diplomats. Then he further changed his stance by pleading that these were harmless contacts and that the security of United States was not compromised during those backdoor parleys.
The relevant questions that come to a layman’s mind are the following:
Did he meet the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential elections?
When did he meet?
why did he meet him?
What was discussed?
Has that meeting impacted upon the national interest of United States or the 2016 elections?
Why did he hide earlier that he didn’t meet the Russian ambassador until it was disclosed by the Washington Post?
What can be the implications for him for hiding a high-level meeting with the ambassador of an enemy country and later acknowledging it when it came out?
Meeting clandestinely, with Russians and all the more with diplomats raises many questions as Russia is not a friend or strategic ally of United States. This event also has embarrassed the new administration under president Donlad Trump. Already Trump administration is faced with a host of crises. President’s tongue lashing has been very severe and hard against the media as well the judiciary. The media plays its role objectively, irrespective whether the people in the power corridors were pleased or annoyed.
The American press and for that matter media in any society plays the vital role in highlighting the achievements and drawbacks of the state institutions. Therefore, it acts as a watchdog to safeguard the democratic and constitutional fabric of the society as well as conduct of the rulers, state employees and state institutions.
President Trump’s denunciation of the media as “dishonest” and “enemy of the people” are highly toxic and overly distasteful verdicts about the press and the journalists.
Session’s controversy was preceded by another similar incident involving Trump’s National Security Advisor Retired Army Lieutenant General, Michael T. Flynn. Flynn had to resign for misleading key government’s top officials, media and the people about the nature of his telecommunication contacts with the Russian diplomats. Flynn remained as the National Security Advisor just for 24 days which is the shortest in the history of the office.
Flynn has been replaced by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new National Security Adviser. President made this announcement today at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Palm Beach, Fla., where he had been interviewing candidates to replace Flynn.
While president Trump’s policy announcements, promulgated through the executive orders have either remained unfulfilled or viewed as impracticable, the issue of secret meetings of the two top ranking members of his cabinet is exceedingly serious and fraught with dire fallout. It might turn to be an “Achilles Heel” for the present administration in case the charge is proved that somehow Russia was involved in the hacking of the 2016 elections in support of Donlad Trump and against his democratic rival Madam Hillary Clinton.
The American press both print and Media have joined hands in painting a totally negative image and unsuitable temperament of Trump as the president of the United States of America. He is under constant scathing censure of the press except Fox Television Channel which favors a radical right leaning administration including the incumbent one, no matter how dysfunctional those could be.
It ought to be an utmost and crucial urgency for president Donald Trump and his administration as well as the retinue of advisors and cabinet members to reset their sails of governance. Instead of embarking upon the path of belligerency and confrontation and vitriolic rebuttals, they should be moderate, sober and accommodating and rather discrete in lowering and softening their headstrong outbursts and uncalled-for rebukes and retaliations.
American Press has seldom been against or critical of any government or individuals unless there are valid reasons and grounds for that. If a leader calls the media as “dishonest” and “enemy of the people”, then he or she cannot expect bouquets of flowers in return.
The press can be rebuked or contradicted when there is a need to correct news reports or editorials or opinion columns. Yet to characterize media and journalists as an assemblage of dishonest people is certainly neither wise nor factual. It is the right and role of the press to criticize and analyze what they believe was right or wrong for the people and the country. But the stigmas of enmity and dishonesty is exceedingly lethal and insidious insinuation.
As far the Russian involvement in manipulating the 2016 American presidential elections is concerned, it would be indeed in the best national interest as well as for the clearance of Trump administration from this blame is to order a high-level probe. That would help clear the mystery of the backdoor role of the Russians in connivance with the Trump and his associates in winning the 2016 elections. Tagged with this is also the issue of role of the American individuals or groups involved in that yet to be resolved rigmarole.
The details of the alleged Russian involvement in American elections and even president Trump’s personal links with Russian are yet to become public and be clarified. But if the insinuation proves right then it could be quite embarrassing for the incumbent administration of United States and personally for president Donald Trump
Thursday, March 2, 2017
February 24, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan must have as many more provinces as possible. The existing four provinces are like four states within a state. These four big administrative units create regional and provincial friction bordering on hatred. Ever since the creation of Pakistan, one of the overriding hurdles in the way of coveted national cohesion and unity are these administrative elephantine units that vie and remain at loggerheads with each other. With a separate language of each province, the four separate nationalities look conspicuously distinct. Besides it creates communication barriers between the people with less or no knowledge of the national language Urdu.The fruits of devolution of powers are universally known for balanced and effective development of both rural and urban areas of a country on one side and the backward and advanced areas on the other. In big units as we have in Pakistan, the major chunks of allocation of funds go to those cities or towns where the politicians or the members of the parliament come from.
Even otherwise in Pakistan, the rural development has remained mostly neglected as most of the funds are spent in the urban settlements. For better utilization of resources and quick development, more provinces should be created. The long-standing demands for decentralization of power should be actually fulfilled by transferring more powers to the provinces and from provinces to the local bodies.
Through 18th amendment passed by National Assembly of Pakistan on April 8, 2010, the president (then Asif Ali Zardari) relinquished a significant part of presidential powers willingly and transferred them to parliament and the office of the prime minister. Yet the provinces were not empowered enough nor creation of more provinces was considered.
Unfortunately, due to rampant corruption and lack of effective accountability, the funds are misused and misappropriated. The development projects sometimes, exist on the paper only. The quality of work on building roads and other projects in Pakistan is woefully inferior. The oversight and strict compliance of codes and regulations are, more often than not, violated and breached with connivance of the bureaucracy and government officials.
The scams, scandals, nepotism and favoritism play a dominant role in awarding contracts, permits and lucrative licenses to the friends, and kith of the party members, bureaucrats, feudal lords and politicians. Such blatant favoritism is shown also to those who grease the palms of the members of the officialdom, bureaucracy and the parliament members. The social and civic development remains largely confined to the big cities or to the areas of the influential individuals. The people have to travel all the way to the provincial capitals to meet the provincial assembly members at a big financial cost and time.
Even after 60 years of its existence, Pakistan is devoid of highways between major cities and an efficient railway system. The people suffer from poor, inadequate or deficient civic utilities. The political chaos takes it pernicious toll on the quality of life. The paramount goals of sustained water and power supply, solid waste disposal, provision of health, education, orderly traffic and good transportation that are components of good city management and a smooth civic life, have remained woefully unrealized. The quality of life in Pakistan is abysmally low.
Bangladesh (that separated from the West Pakistan in 1971), despite being much smaller in area (56000 sq. miles to 340000 sq. miles of Pakistan), has 6 provinces and 64 districts. Bangladesh has a system of distribution of resources and funds for development that is much transparent, grass root and effective than Pakistan because the money is spread over more administrative units and therefore is spent on a vast area. India has 28 provinces and 610 districts. In comparison Pakistan has four big federating units and only 127 districts.
It would be a breakthrough, giant and milestone step forward if the present four provinces are partitioned into smaller provinces. The inhabitants of the new provinces would benefit in the following manner:
- They won’t look up to the provincial capitals and the politicians sitting there to send them the funds.
- With the decentralization and devolution of powers, the people of smaller units can make their own decisions locally and undertake the development and progress that they deem suitable.
- It would create more sense of participation by people because of more provincial governments and political freedom.
At present provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), harbor a host of grievances against Punjab for taking more share of funds to the undue use of water as well as because of the army whose bulk comes from Punjab. Punjab is the target of complaints and grudge of other provinces for being a privileged province as was West Pakistan compared to the former East Pakistan.
East Pakistan’s cessation (for Bengalis independence) could have been averted if the Eastern wing of Pakistan had been fairly and equitably treated. Similar kind of threat and danger of disintegration looms over Pakistan now and which can be averted or removed if more provinces are carved out of the existing ones.
The creation of more provinces would meet demands of many regions with common language and ethnic bonds for giving them a status of a province. For instance, the creation of the Saraiki and Hazara provinces are the long-standing demand of the people of these areas. The population of Hazara region wants to separate from the Pushto speaking parts of PK because their language is Pahari, a dialect mix of Pushto and Punjabi.
Saraiki speaking people want to have a separate province because they look different from both Sindh and Punjab as for their language and culture is concerned. The FATA (the federally administered tribal areas) can be converted into a separate province. The valleys of Chitral, Swat, Hunza, and Dir each can also be given separate status of provinces.Considerations such as common folklore, common language or dialect, common ethnic and cultural milieu and administrative efficiency should be kept in view with regard to the creation of more provinces. As earlier pointed out, the increase in the number of provinces would help alleviate the inter-provincial friction that so apparently exists now between the four provinces.
As enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan, it is time to give the promised autonomy to the provinces. While the provincial autonomy is a persistent demand and is the constitutional right of the provinces, the powers in the concurrent list that are due to provinces should be transferred to them.it is indeed a priority issue which the sooner is resolved, the better it would be for the harmonious relationship between provinces and federation on one hand and between the federating units on the other.
Once the question of creation of more provinces and transfer of the promised powers to the provinces is addressed, the stability of Pakistan can be guaranteed. Otherwise the clash of interests would keep the center and provinces in mutual bickering and feuding. The break-away feelings and insurgency that is going on in Balochistan can be nailed and quelled, once and for all, if the constitutional obligation of devolution of powers to provinces is fulfilled.
There can be a quid-pro-quo in sharing powers with the provinces. But essentially as is the practice and custom in other federations around the world, most of the powers must reside with the constituent geographical units. United States of America is one country where such a remarkable model for division of powers is in vogue. The states (provinces) are almost independent in running their local governments even to the extent of having direct commercial and business deals with other countries. This model can be followed in Pakistan as far as possible.
The provincial autonomy once given would relieve the center of the bureaucratic over-lordship. The function of the center would be to make policy decisions and with the coordination of the provinces implement these. The shifting of most of the ministries to the provincial domain would alleviate enormous administrative and financial load on the center.
As such it is also in the interest of the center to go ahead with the settlement of the lingering question of provincial autonomy (already partly given) which together with the creation of more provinces would catapult the much-coveted paradigm of good governance in Pakistan. Such a landmark decision would undoubtedly put Pakistan on the road to economic prosperity and socio- political stability.