More provinces – by Masood Burki

A debate has started on the need for creating Hazara and Saraiki provinces. But rather than solving our problem of political, administrative and ethnic imbalances, creation of only two new provinces may create further complications.

Large-scale autonomy should be given to provinces, or units, so that no ethnic group has the ability to dominate smaller groups. In Switzerland there are four ethnic groups: speakers of Germans, French, Italians and Romansch. There is no domination in Switzerland by the German majority, because the political system ensures that this will not happen.

At the time of independence, India consisted of seven states and two union territories. Today the country has 28 states and seven union territories. By creating a large number of political subdivisions, India has, to a great extent, eliminated the domination of the north over the south.

My proposal is to create 16 or 17 provinces in Pakistan, which is the bare minimum. Pakistan should create five provinces out of Punjab, namely: Rawalpindi, Lahore, Sargodha, Multan and Bahawalpur. It should create three provinces out of Sindh: Sukkur, Hyderabad and Karachi. Three provinces should be carved out of NWFP: Peshawar, Abbotabad (Hazara) and Dera Ismail Khan. Balochistan should have the provinces of Quetta, Sibi and Makran. There should be provinces consisting of the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir and one consisting of FATA. Alternatively, the FATA area should join the provinces of Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan.

There should be more federal territories in addition to the Federal Territory of Islamabad. All ports should be federal territories. Thus we will have ten federal territories.

We need to go for a plebiscite in Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas (by calling in UN observers) to integrate them as new provinces of Pakistan. It is absolutely essential that the people of the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir are represented in our National Assembly. After achieving this integration we can create pressure on India to complete the process of plebiscite, as enshrined in the UN resolutions on Kashmir.

Because of bad governance and rampant corruption, Pakistani society is on the brink of disaster. Pakistan is in the grip of militant extremists who are thriving because of the state’s inability to deliver governance, speedy justice and fair play to the people. The creation of only Hazara and Saraiki provinces will cause a host of complications.

The gulf between the haves and have-nots has increased, and the masses are desperate and the state is failing. In the economic field, we have over the years avoided the adoption of a policy of self-reliance. Most of our governments have followed policies which have made us more and more dependant on foreign aid, and thus today we have limited sovereignty.

Pakistan is a nation of diverse ethnic and linguistic groups and needs better integration through better administration and more viable political subdivisions. While creating more provinces in Pakistan we have also to ensure, in the Constitution of Pakistan, that no more than four ministers will be allowed in each province as mandatory provision of the Constitution. Similarly, the federal government is to be restricted to only 12 ministers.

In order to achieve a strong and viable Pakistan it is inevitable to create at least 16 or 17 provinces in Pakistan on an urgent basis.

The choice is ours. Either we became a failed state or go for self-reliance, austerity and honesty to create a stable and viable state.

The writer is a retired major-general who has written a book entitled Blueprint for Stable and Viable Pakistan. Email:

Source: The News, May 05, 2010pak


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