Issue of new provinces in Pakistan


After separation of East Pakistan in 1971, Federation of Pakistan consists of four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, Capital Territory and Federal Administered Tribal Area (now merged in KPK). Even after 18th amendment in constitution of 1973, provincial autonomy was assured but yet division of existing provinces is talk of the day. Creation of new provinces in Pakistan is historic issue furthermore renaming of NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa emerged it as burning question for federation of Pakistan. Issue of new province is also observed in Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan. To them, creation of new provinces is demanded due to socio-economic disparities but factually, lingual motivation works as pushing factor in this drive. Bahawalpur was firstly a princely state and it lost its state of being separate administrative unit after restoration of one unit. Now it also demands for being separated.
Constitutionally, two-third majority is required in the provincial assembly for its division. Under subsection-4 as per article 239, “A bill to amend the Constitution which would have the effect of altering the limits of a province shall not be presented to the President for assent unless it has been passed by the Provincial Assembly of that Province by the votes of not less than two-thirds of its total membership”.
There are different views for creation of new provinces in Pakistan; one approach favours the creation of new provinces believing the static analysis, they argue that population of Pakistan (almost 22 crore) is nearly similar to Nigeria; having 36 states, Brazil; having 26 states and Indonesia; having 34 states. Nevertheless, Pakistan has almost equal area as that of Tanzania; having 31 regions, Nigeria; having 36 states, Venezuela; having 23 states and Mozambique; having 10 provinces. If all those country have nearly same area and population as Pakistan has and they perform well administratively then Pakistan can also have more units. Another view examines in regional frame of reference by giving the example of India, Iran, china and Afghanistan. All those countries have more than 30 unites each. People, belong to this thought, claim that grievances of masses are genuine there is need of economic development and social stability. There exists unfair distribution of resources and difficult to mechanise large provinces therefore there is need of new provinces.
The issue is that we have yet colonel mind-set and we still think for smaller regions in order to be effectively administered. However operative administration is also possible in large lands. In accordance with recent state of affairs, it can be analysed that there is lingual and ethnic dynamics behind these dogmas. If provinces are started to be created on ethnic grounds situation will lead towards pre-independence time phase in which there existed more than 560 princely states. Division of lingual basis will escalate dissatisfaction among people of different areas in Pakistan.
New provinces are not need of an hour at this stage. Government can address grievances of impoverished masses in order to mitigate demands for more provinces. Rather than policy of creating new provinces government should focus on valuable governance. Political leadership looks all set to cut provinces down to match their own sphere of influence.
Creation of new districts in 2004/5 caused chaotic situation in district Kambar Shahdadkot, in that controversy eleven people were killed. More provinces will put more burden on country. Formation of new provinces can harm integration of our country. A report, given in, 2013 suggested that there is need of only one province – Bahawalpur. As it already had enjoyed status of separate unit and it had reasonable economic stability at that time. In spite of this, further demands of new provinces in Pakistan are ethnically boosted and require no practical steps to be taken. Beyond all those political stances and lingual based demands masses should think that economic stability is possible in existing system. Before undertaking new provinces some variables must be analysed in national interest of Pakistan; this creation can create state of anarchy and exploitation by influential groups, there can happen deterioration in inter- provincial relations.
Pakistan is the only Muslim country with nuclear capacity having threats from East and West, This is the nation, next to Afghanistan, which has suffered the most after war on terror. To muddle through all the condition, Pakistan needs strong federation rather than division. Ensuring provincial autonomy, along with power decentralization in provinces, can overcome pluralistic grievances but not creation of more provinces.