Dividing Punjab


This Article appeared in Daily The News on April 1st, 2011.

Lately the creation of a southern province in Punjab is being debated in the media and in our political circles. The incommodious attitude of certain political parties of avoiding open debate on this significant issue of considerable public import is incomprehensible and manifests an escapist attitude.

Punjab is the biggest province of Pakistan with a population of 81, 330, 531(over 81 million) which is about 47 percent of Pakistan’s total population. It encompasses an area of 2, 05, 344 square kilometres. Out of a total of 342 National Assembly seats; Punjab has 183 MNAs, Sind 75, KPK has 43, Baluchistan 17, FATA 12, minorities 10 and Islamabad Capital Territory two MNAs. If the number of 183 MNAs from Punjab is seen in juxtaposition to 171 MNAs from all the other three provinces and other groups put together, it shows a very unpleasant comparison. Without any bias, prejudice and sounding parochial, the small provinces are living in a state of perpetual minority vis-a-vis Punjab. And certain vested interest groups and parties have been using this anomaly to their advantage. Using the Sind ‘card’ and some statements by sub nationalist parties in KPK and Baluchistan manifests this dangerous trend due to this anomaly. Even the erstwhile East Pakistan saga finds connections to this disproportionate administrative structural deficiency phenomenon. The people of Punjab are very open minded and hearty people. People hailing from other provinces and working in Punjab do not face discrimination. Yet Punjab gets a bad name when it suits certain vested interest groups and parties. Punjab in spite of being very accommodative gets discredited simply because of its size as compared to other federating units. This anomaly, therefore, needs to be addressed at the earliest.

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Charting a new path


This Article appeared in Daily Dawn on March 23rd, 2011.

THE release of Raymond Davis followed by a deadly drone strike in North Waziristan, which killed over 40 tribal people, shows not only the arrogance the US usually displays it also exposes dissimilitude in US-Pakistan relations in this so-called ‘war on terror’.

The public was already furious about the way in which Raymond Davis was released and whisked away within hours of completing the court proceedings and all the other formalities that citizens of this country face for years. The drone attack that then followed shook the people of Pakistan.

There was a perception that Raymond Davis was probably released as a result of a secret deal between the two governments or their agencies. This was not an unreasonable assumption considering that people’s emotions were running high and the media was very active over the issue. It was therefore a wise decision to conduct these complicated dealings behind the scenes.

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