By Mariam Rehman ⋅ March 3, 2010 ⋅
NWFP- North Western Frontier Province, know as Sarhad in Urdu, was named by the British Government after dividing the Pashtun populated area by Durand Line. People of NWFP are demanding to change the name of their province for quiet a long time. It is a legitimate demand, because North Western Frontier Province is NOT A NAME, it’s a location. They demand to rename it to Pakhtunkhwa. The present government was ready to change the name of the province and President Zardari mentioned this name in United Nation’s General Assembly on September 26. And it was the first time that this name was mentioned by a president.
The demand for renaming the province has the history back in the early 20th century. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan told the Constituent Assembly in 1948 that they want to rename the province and said, “the renaming of his province as Pakhtoonistan. Like Sindh, Punjab, etc.” Though, political parties in the province are now agreed to rename their province as Pakhtunkhwa instead of Pakhtoonistan.
All other provinces in Pakistan have ethno-linguistic names, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan; so it is very fair for NWFP to change its name to Pakhtunkhwa. The present government raised this issue in the parliament and opposition was faced by one of the major political party in the country, PML (N). The reason behind this opposition is that the above mentioned political party enjoys considerable support in Hindko speaking Hazar region, and according to them this renaming would be on “ethnic grounds” though other provinces are already named on the “ethnic grounds”. According to statistics by NWFP government, 68% of people in the province speak Pashto. Other languages spoken are Hindko(18%), Seraiki(8%), Urdu & Punjabi(2%). It is clear that majority of people speak Pashto and these statistics show, like other provinces in the country, there are different ethnic groups in NWFP, including Hinkdo, Seraiki, Urdu and Punjabi, but the majority speaks Pashto.
Renaming the province is one of those steps that should be taken by the government in order to fulfill the demands of smaller provinces. Pashtuns already believe to get an unfair deal from federal government on different issues, including failure to honor Hydro royalty agreements, refusal to allow the renaming of the province, refusal to grant provincial autonomy and discrimination they are facing due to war-on-terror. It will have long lasted impact on Pakistani politics. Begum Wali Khan once said “I want an identity.. I want the name to change so that Pathans may be identified on the map of Pakistan… [Pakhtunkhwa was] the 3000 year old name of this area: the name used by Ahmed Shah Abdali who said he forgot everything including the throne of Delhi but not Pakthunkhwa”
The above article is very crucial to understanding the realities of the composition of of our Mother land; I am most fortunate for having lived and experienced the flavour, character, and ethnicity of each of our 4 province of the original partition, albeit, GB has recently become a equal identity, though I have not even ventured in that direction, I have to admit that my exposure to the fine people of that region just like the other 4 have a very specific personality.
Because I have lived in Sind, Baluchistan, NWFP (Pakhtunkhwa) and Punjab, and have friends from all 5 Provinces, each province is very distinct in its language culture and customs. So I fail to see why one large territory should not have a name that actually identifies it with all the characteristics that make up the good folks of that province…. Zahid Husain