Boundaries of Seraiki Province – by Shakeel Ahmad
Nowadays Seraiki intellectuals and politicians are doing public rounds on how to get the idea of a Seraiki province realised? Some support the restoration of defunct Bahawalpur province that has administrative control of other Seraiki speaking districts. Others demand the proposed Seraiki province be carved out of all Seraiki districts of Punjab and the NWFP through a presidential ordinance.
Islamabad-based Seraiki intellectual Ahsan Wagah says that ideally not only Seraiki province but all provinces should be based on lingo-cultural boundaries. Pragmatically, the Seraikis should get whatever is being offered to them.He said the formation of a new province was not a simple act as it would require a lot of work to be settled. He said the reinstatement of Bahawalpur province as administrative unit was something which the people of the area demanded as the province was taken away from them by force.
He said the demand for a larger Seraiki province had been matured and the growing disparity between the central Punjab and the Seraiki regionhad made the issue unavoidable.
Seraiki Qaumi Party (SQP) General Secretary Mansoor Kareem Sial said that the restoration of the Bahawalpur province was not viable economically.
He said that it would be amusing that the province would consist of three districts while it would have the administrative control of more than dozen districts. He added the creation of the Seraiki province was also a constitutional issue.
Former Punjab deputy speaker Mian Usman Abbasi said the restoration of the Bahawalpur province and putting other Seraiki districts under its control was the shortest way towards the Seraiki province.
He said Bahawalpur held infrastructure required for a province and the status of Bahawalpur as province could be restored without any constitutional hindrance.
Muttahida Tehreek Bahali Sooba Bahawalpur General Secretary Qari Moonis Baloch says their movement is not concerned with any cultural or linguistic aspect as the provinces and they only want the restoration of the Bahawalpur province as it was during one unit rule till 1955.
He claimed that major political figures of that time such as Mumtaz Daultana, Asghar Khan, Mufti Mehmood, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, Maulana Bhashani, Ghulam Ghaus Hazarvi, Maulana Maudodi, Shorish Kashmeri and Maulana Abdullah Darkhawsti had supported the movement for the restoration of the Bahawalpur province when the one unit was dissolved in 1970.
Zahoor Dhareja, a Seraiki leader, however, opposes the restoration of Bahawalpur province, saying the Seraiki province should be based on cultural boundaries.
Dhareja said that nobody could object to the formation of a province for the Seraikis when the Sindhis are living is Sindh, Punjabis in Punjab and Balochs in Balochistan while the Pashtuns are demanding the change of the name of their province.
He said the restoration of Bahawalpur province would be injustice with other Seraiki districts, particularly Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Tank that are historically and culturally the part of the Seraiki belt but were included in the NWFP by the British regime.
he establishment of the Seraiki province did not need a two-thirds majority in parliament and it could only be established through a presidential ordinance, Dhareja added.
He said the proposed Seraiki province should be consisted of 22 districts: Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan, Khanewal, Vehari, Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Okara, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Khushab, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Tank.