Seraiki province: a bone of contention for many – by Rauf Klasra

Sharp differences within the ranks of the PML-N surfaced in the National Assembly on Friday over the issue of a Seraiki province when its MNA Hanif Abbasi, without naming anyone, snubbed the likes of Javed Hashmi, who had joined the voices backing this move.

The top PML-N leadership reportedly fears that such a move, which is said to have strong backing of the top PPP leadership, would lead to erosion of its political authority in case a new province was created in the Punjab. The loud voice of Javed Hashmi in this regard reportedly rang alarm bells in the party ranks and Hanif Abbasi was tasked to give a shut-up call to those who were favouring this demand.

Meanwhile, the supporters of this move may get more reasons to demand their own province when the National Assembly was informed during the question hour that out of the Rs 20 billion loan obtained from the World Bank by the Ministry of Communication to construct mega roads in the country, not a single project was launched in the southern Punjab. Out of 18 projects, eight were started in the central and northern Punjab. Likewise, out of the Rs 20 billion taken as loan from the Asian Development Bank, only one 37-km road project was started on the Multan-Muzaffargarh road.

One official said this kind of discrimination in the allocation of development funds to the most poverty-stricken and backward areas had already led many to fear that the next battle ground after the tribal areas might be these areas as militancy was on the rise there.

Earlier, the Punjab Assembly witnessed hue and cry over the issue when a group of MPs hailing from southern Punjab favoured this demand. They also chanted slogans against the centralisation of powers and concentration of development in Lahore and its adjoining areas after it was pointed out that only a Rs 5 billion development budget was fixed for the Seraiki areas against over Rs100 billion for the central and northern Punjab.

The PLM-N top leadership is keeping quiet as only provincial minister Rana Sanaullah tried to counter those who were demanding a separate province. Now, Hanif Abbasi has joined Rana Sanaullah.

However, PML-N Senator Pervez Rashid told The News from Lahore that so far his party had not started any debate within its ranks on the issue. He said the views of the parliamentarians were their own.

He said that it was not only the PML-N where this kind of sharp division was being seen on this issue, but it would also happen with the rest of the political parties like the PPP and the PML-Q when their leaders start discussion on this issue. Pervez Rashid said discussions about new provinces or the administrative units take place all over the world and there was no harm in discussing them. But, he questioned those elements, particularly Mohammad Ali Durrani, who were in favour of a Bhawalpur or a Seraiki province, that on what basis they wanted the division of the Punjab.

He said if this was on the lingual basis, many other nationalities with different languages living in the province would also seek separate provinces. Rasheed also asked whether this division would only be confined to the Punjab or rest of the provinces would also face similar arrangements.

But some background interviews with some top political sources revealed that the PPP was set to raise this issue on a much bigger scale in the days to come, as it believed that this might play havoc with the politics of PML-N in the Seraiki areas and the party might exploit it in the next elections. Although, in the past this kind of debate did not generate much interest among the Seraiki voters during the elections, but this time, the situation seems quite different, as not only the PPP is backing this move but MPs from this region have also started making this demand in parliament for the first time.

PPP MNAs from Muzaffargarh Qayum Jatoi, Moazam Jaoti and Jamshed Dasti were the first to make this demand from President Asif Zardari in their party meetings and later they raised it on the floor of the House. However, this issue got more weight recently when Senator Mohammad Ali Durrani announced to launch a movement to get the Bhawalpur province restored in line with the commitment of then prime minister Ghulam Mohammad when one unit was formed.

The political analysts said the PPP knew it very well that this move would marginalise the PML-N to the central and northern Punjab as the south might go for a party that would support the creation of a new unit.

One source said the move by PPP leaders has already started paying the dividends, as the PML-N was being seen sharply divided after Javed Hashmi’s loud statement in favour of a province followed a furious outburst against this idea by Hanif Abbasi on the floor of the House on Friday.

But the sources said the PPP leadership would face the real test as and when it would adopt the issue as its official policy, and one would see how easily it might convince its Punjabi politicians about the division of the province.

The News, June 28, 2009seraikistan map


  1. Taj Langah thanks Elahi for backing Seraiki province
    Updated at: 2005 PST, Sunday, April 18, 2010
    LAHORE: Pakistan Seraiki Party (PSP) chief Taj Muhammad Langah today called on PML-Q leader and former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi and discussed with him problems facing the people of South Punjab.

    The PSP chief thanked the former chief minister for his support in establishment of a separate Seraiki province in South Punjab.

    Elahi said during his time as the chief minister of Punjab he had released special funds to end the sense of deprivation prevailing in South Punjab.

    “I had initiated a number of mega and small development projects in South Punjab, he said, regretting that the present government had stopped all those projects.”

  2. ‘N’ to support Saraiki province on administrative grounds
    Published: April 16, 2010
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    LAHORE – Senior Adviser to CM Punjab Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa has said the PML-N will support the division of the Punjab on administrative grounds instead of on linguistic and prejudicial bases.
    While replying to a question posed during a press conference held here on Thursday at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Khosa advised senior PML-N leader Makhdoom Javed Hashmi to present his viewpoint about the Saraiki province in the Party meetings instead of going to the media and masses.
    To another question, he said Saraiki was a language spoken in parts of South Punjab, Sindh and NWFP, and other ethnic groups like Syed, Baloch, Gujjar, etc were also living in the Southern Punjab. While criticising former Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, the Senior Minister opined that the former was raising slogans for the creation of a separate province in Bahawalpur after his party (PML-Q) was routed in the elections and Pervez Musharraf had left the country.
    “PML-N Quaid Muha-mmad Nawaz Sharif has already said that new provinces could be created on the demand of the people, but a constitutional way needs to be followed in this regard,” he mentioned, adding that the PML-N leadership awarded tickets for by-elections to suitable candidates in consultation with other party members.
    Khosa explicitly stated that he did not support creation of a province on linguistic grounds, and if there was a need to set up more administrative units, the constitutional method should be followed, which included approval from assembly by two-thirds majority or referendum.

  3. PPP may use Hazara demand to press for Seraiki province

    By Asim Awan
    April 19, 2010

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    Islamabad: The Pakistan Muslim League-N, which alienated most people in its traditional stronghold in the Hazara region, may rally in support of the demand for a Hazara province in the face of rising public pressure.

    The PPP may use it as a justification to press for the creation of a Seraiki province in southern Punjab. The PML-N has substantial political backing in the Hazara region, where people have been violently protesting against the renaming of the NWFP as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PPP, however, enjoys considerable support in southern Punjab. Political analysts say that PML-N lawmakers from Hazara had opposed the renaming of the NWFP.

    Facing mounting public pressure, former NWFP chief minister Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan was left with no choice but to tender resignation from his seat in the National Assembly to party chief Nawaz Sharif. Although Mr Sharif refused to accept his resignation, he might be compelled to support the demand for a Hazara province.

    The PML-Q has already tried to create a foothold in the region by supporting the demand for a separate province. Sources in the PPP maintain that although the party is not overly enthusiastic about new provinces, its leadership may use it as an opportunity to bolster its image among its voters in southern Punjab, adding that creation of a Seraiki province may provide Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani with extra political mileage.

    They say that the PML-N had been able to use its strong support in central and northern Punjab to form a government in Punjab.

    The PPP thinks that if it is able to form a province Seraiki or otherwise it would be able to weaken the PML-N at the national level as the Nawaz League would be left with only half of Punjab.

    But the party’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that the PPP position was not going to change the current provincial arrangements. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira denied the possibility of linking the demand for a Hazara province with a Seraiki province. He said decisions concerning the creation of new provinces should only be taken after attaining a national consensus.

    He also said that the Constitution required that change in the composition of a province could only be initiated if the assembly of that province “comes up with a resolution in its favour with a two-thirds majority”. A senior PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq said that his party was not against the concept of a new province but it “will take decisions keeping in view the wishes of the people of Hazara and the national interest”.

    When asked about the possibility of a proposal for a province in southern Punjab, he said the PML-N was not opposed to new provinces provided they “are formed keeping in view administrative considerations and not “linguistic considerations”, adding that any such change would require the assent of two-thirds majority in the Punjab assembly.

    When asked if the PML-N would vote for a province in southern Punjab, he said if a total consensus developed, the PML-N would not oppose it. But he refused to answer when asked if the PML-N opinion during such a consensus building would be in favour of making a new province out of the Punjab. Some senior PML-Q leaders, however, have been supporting the call for a province in southern Punjab “just for gaining some political support there”.

  4. With the reluctant introduction of 18th amendment delegating pledged powers to the national entities of this federation, instead of executing it in its actual letter and spirit and devolving power to the local/regional levels; establishment has openly triggered its efforts to undermine the genuine 4 nations (Sindhis,Pashtoons,Balochs and Punjabis) question by creating pseudo nations within them one after another. Which are about to produce fruit with another division of the most vulnerable entity of this federation…i-e Punjab, the foundation for what was surreptitiously laid in 60s and all the preparations in terms of getting de facto recognition of “Saraiki” as a separate language, culture, region through a well planned fabricated/distorted history through state controlled public & private media, have been done without any constitutional, legal, masses and expertise approval; however research on geography, history, language, culture and ground realities of Punjab clearly shows completely opposite picture…

    For instance Majhi, Doabi, Puadhi, Malwai, Rathi, Bhatiani, Dogri and Kangri are all the major eastern Punjabi dialects and sub classification of western Punjabi or Lahnda into three main categories: (1) Southern Lahndi consists of Saraiki and Jatki (2) North East Lahandi consists of Dhann, Hindko and Tinuaali etc. (3) North West Lahandi includes Potohari, Punchi, Awankari and Pahari by George Grierson, an English civil servant and numerous other indigenous and foreign researchers with the exception of a few ones; clearly shows that western Punjabi or Lahanda has got many dialects as well having Multani/Saraiki it’s integral part…

    So is in the case of geography having five rivers evidencing the name PUN-AB, history in which all the region including Multan has always been the integral part of the land of five rivers except a few times in the history, when it was ruled as one of the administrative-units/provinces of Sindh due to the tug of war among different rulers…above all the conversation of purely illiterate persons (belonging to any part of Punjab) with each other without any third person’s help is an irrefutable evidence of one language having diverse dialects…

    In spite of all those realities, a well organized un-constitutional, illegal and seditious campaign through print and electronic media without any hindrance has been in progress at the behest of establishment and supported by all right, left and so-called nationalist political & non-political proxy parties of establishment eventually to pave the way and to gain malicious political motives at the cost of the fate of Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtoon & Baloch masses/nations…

    The said 4 genuine nations of this federation shall have to face the following immediate repercussions after the proposed division of Punjab…

    (1). With the increase of seats in senate for each divided unit of Punjab having the same faces in order to defeat the other provinces’ majority in both houses of Parliament, building of Kalabagh Dam to irrigate the agricultural land of southern & central Punjabi/Saraiki politicians and upper Punjabi/Potohari army against the wishes (expressed through the assemblies) of Balochs, Sindhis & Pashtoons…

    (2). The more firm control of “PUNJABI ESTABLISHMENT” (comprises of southern Punjabi/Saraiki politicians mostly have been plundering & ruling on TAKHT-E-LAHORE & TAKHT-E-ISLAMABAD, central Punjabi business class and upper Punjabi/Potohari army) over all the downtrodden masses in all divided units of Punjab and on Sindhis, Pashtoons and Balochs in terms of literally “BIG BROTHER”…

    (3). Above all the illegitimate and mischievous division of other entities/provinces one after another as well on the similar precedent of Punjab with the final occupation of the whole coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan from already occupied city/capital Karachi up to Gawadar, for which already a coastal motorway has been built to get easy access…

    The proposed echoing division of Punjab has been underestimated not only by ignorant Punjabis but also by all well aware Baloch, Pashtoon and Sindhi masses…The extreme resentment of Baloch, Pashtoon and Sindhi masses against Punjabi establishment is comprehend-able, yet is insane as besides increasing the suffering of Punjabi masses instead of “PUNJABI ESTABLISHMENT” their annoyance would rather trigger their own adversities…So they shall have to analyze in depth to see the inside story…On the other hand Punjabis and particularly thinkers, who assume Urdu, UPite Islam and Pakistan as holy symbols shall have to revamp their said notions…If the division of Pakistani federation having remaining 4 nations is a sin, how could another division of a historical entity “PUNJAB”, which is their motherland as well can be swallowed? If earlier one is termed as treason, why can’t the later one be called sedition? If anyone could be declared traitor for writing, speaking airing, publishing so far against an abstract Pakistani federation, how could one be so easily allowed to do the same against a historical entity like Punjab keeping in view print and electronic media having many TV channels cultivating masses thinking just to pave the way for accomplishing the set goals of establishment by projecting a concocted history of southern Punjab painting it a separate entity…! In the light of above analysis, won’t the proposed division of Punjab would cause the division of other 3 national units/entities/provinces (KPK, Sindh & Balochistan) one after another as well with the eternal enslaver of all said 4 nations in terms of another worst form of one unit and eventual dismemberment of this federation once and for all having extreme anarchy, chaos, restlessness and bloodshed in this federation and region…? However the 5th columnists among all the said 4 indigenous nations in nexus with racist infiltrated Urdu speaking aliens of Ganga Jamana would reign… Please give your logical & objective deliberations with historical, linguistic, geographical and political proofs…!

  5. Couple of weeks back while addressing to press outside parliament, one of the veteran leaders of PML(N) reiterated his keen desire in terms of love for Pakistan at the cost of the division of Punjab. In the same tone he apologized to his beloved abstract ‘Pakistani masses’ for being the part of Zia-ul-Haq’s cabinet. Yes, the same dictator, who abetted the racist Urdu speaking mafia in Sindh and hatched and supported the separatist elements in terms of so-called Saraiki nationalists to counter the anticipated emerging nationalistic movement of Punjabis to seek their linguistic/cultural, financial/economical and political rights like Bangalis, Sindhis, Pashtoons & Balochs. As the myopic vision of said dictator vis-à-vis UPite/Urdu speaking version of Islam and fake Pakistaniat couldn’t have cognized the true spirit of said universal religion synchronizing completely with all laws of nature. Having enjoyed the rule in Zia-ul-Haq’s de facto regime later on if Javed Hashmi couldn’t fulfill his desires to rule as Chief Minister or Prime Minister while being the part of PML(N), what is the fault of poor Punjabi masses from Sadiqabad to Attock, who have been electing his whole party’s 5th columnist Punjabis from Punjab??? What is the defect in central Punjab’s downtrodden masses from Lahore, who elected Javed Hashmi…and if his own party’s stupid leader built a road at the cost of 2 billion from Lahore to Raiwind, should the Punjabis living in miserable conditions in the slums of central Lahore, suburbs and in its proximities??? Who lives in the posh areas of Lahore & Islamabad, are they not the landlord Southern Punjabi/so-called Saraiki politicians and nationalists??? Who has been ruling on TAKHT-E-LAHORE & TAKHT-E-ISLAMABAD mostly since before 1947 from Punjab??? If Javed Hashmi desperately claims that whether his party gives him ticket for next election or not, he would carry on speaking truth…but I would suggest him don’t speak partial truth, as it is far worse than complete lie…so we Punjabis shall have to speak the above described full truth keeping in view the perverted nature of such Punjabi politicians…However loudly Javed Hashmi and his racist Urdu speaking mafia’s subjugated ‘Punjabi establishment’ carry on making Punjabis and some other native nations desperate having showed a bleak picture of this federation by projecting that ‘if new provinces are not made, it would be dangerous for Pakistan, and we (as Javed Hashmi warned) want Pakistan rather Punjab’…Hence let me explicitly reiterate that if any single existing province/entity/unit of this federation is divided, that would be the final nail in the coffin of this federation…! Therefore, I would say we nationalist want intact Sindh, Pashtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab as the peace and prosperity in this federation lies in the security of the said 4 units of this federation…!

  6. WHy is it wrong to divide Punjab. SInce 1947 15% of the development funds have been used i nthe south. SOuth Punjab has 33% of population and has one Government university and North punjab has 67% of population and has 17 Univrsities. R U DUMB MR.akhtar Secondly Saraiki is a separe language than Punjabi and we are tired of Punjabi Rule. The governemtn cant handle violence in Karachi and QUtta. Imagine if violance breaks out in Seraiki population with 2.82 crore poupulation.

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