The Great Provincial Divide
There have been recent talks about creating a new province for better administration “for the Saraiki-speaking citizens”. Apparently, dividing citizens of a country based on language would serve better administrative purpose. Let’s accept this argument for the sake of simplicity and step back into the time when Pakistan was created. Upon creation, Pakistan was divided into four provinces, Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and the NWFP. The creation was based on race and language. Sixty-five years have passed since creation and Pakistan has yet to reconcile its racial identity. Has the Government not learnt anything?
It absolutely has. Politicians are born with the instinct to rule, no-matter what the cost. Divide and rule always comes in handy. If a government which thrives on feudalism, can be divided on race and language for 65 years, there’s no better way to expand the already proven policy of divide and rule.
If the government is truly interested in addressing administrative efficiencies and wants to ‘unite’ Pakistan, here’s a solution to address both these issues within the same policy framework: Consolidate all four language based provinces under the Federal Charter and divide all the land in Pakistan into 1 square mile grids. Now, simply add up the grids till the population headcount reaches 100,000. Make that collection of grids, with 100,000 headcounts, a ‘municipality’. Each municipality should have its own court, police, school, water and fire department and a sales tax code for revenue generation to fund services to its citizens. These municipalities would hold their own elections and those elected officials would then be available to answer to the needs and concerns of the citizens of those municipalities. This same municipality would also tie into the federal voting process. No longer would a federal government be responsible for keeping a count of all the citizens in the whole country. Every municipality would be responsible for keeping a track on headcounts within its municipality.
This is one of the many practical solutions available to Pakistan. The problem isn’t the lack of solutions. Instead, the problem is lack of trust in leadership and political capital. It’s not enough to elect a leader with a vision but to stay focused and remain involved. Most of the time, it’s the voters that turn against the very leader they have elected because too many voters benefit from the existing system in place.
If western countries can absorb immigrants of all different backgrounds, why does Pakistan seem to have a problem consolidating identity in its citizens? As long as the Pakistani identity remains divided, reforms in education, economy and healthcare are pointless.
Pakistani citizens should demand these mandates from their elected representatives. Teachers should teach their students of ideas beyond what the syllabus covers. Maybe not today, but lets plan for tomorrow, if we want to see a tomorrow.
Asif Ameer trade equities, bonds and derivatives in the International Capital Markets. He can be reached via twitter at @AsifAmeer_AP
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Someone reminded me of a speech from Jinnah. I'll share it with you'll. You decide!
“So what is the use of saying, ‘We are Bengalis, or Sindhis, or Pathans, or Punjabis.’ No, we are Muslims. Islam has taught us this, and I think you will agree with me, that whatever else you may be and whatever you are, you are a Muslim. You belong to a nation now; you have now carved out a territory, vast territory, it is all yours; it does not belong to Punjabis or a Sindhi, or a Pathan, or a Bengali; it is your….Provincialism has been one of the curses; and so is sectionalism --- Shia, Sunni, etc…Now I ask you to get rid of this provincialism, because as long as you allow this poison to remain in the body politics of Pakistan, believe me, you will never be a strong nation, and you will never be able to achieve what I wish we could achieve.”