President of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has promised that his party would initiate steps for the creation of Hazara province if voted to power. Mr Sharif made the promise to the people of Hazara while addressing an election rally at Mansehra district.
In April 2010, when the highly publicized Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment was passed by the National Parliament, the name of the then-North West Frontier Province (NWFP) was changed and replaced with new name ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ (KP).
The people of the Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunhwa, particularly Haripur and Abbottabad districts, stood against the decision of national parliament and demanded a separate province comprising of districts falling within the Hazara administration division.
While campaigning for May 11 general elections, Nawaz Sharif – addressing a rally in district Mansehra – promised: “the PML-N will fulfill your demand of forming a separate province of Hazara division…if voted to power.”
Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also said at a public gathering in Abbotabad that his PTI supported the creation of new provinces including the Hazara province.
Truth Tracker contacted PML-N leader Senator Zafar Ali Shah to ascertain the views of the ruling party on the creation of the Hazara province. “Forming a province is a much more difficult task than bringing amendments to the constitution…there is no easy way to form Hazara province,” he said.
Sen Zafar, who is also a constitutional lawyer, said that according to the constitution of Pakistan, for carving out a new province there shall be a resolution passed by the assembly of the parent province – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the case of Hazara – by a 2/3 majority. The same resolution would be then tabled at the National Assembly where it would also need to be passed by a 2/3 majority to constitute a new province, he said.
Unfortunately, said the senator, PML-N didn’t have a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa nor a majority of members in the provincial legislature to pass a resolution for a new province. However, he said “our party (PML-N) will fully support the creation of Hazara province if any party brought a resolution into the provincial or national assembly.”
Hazara division is part of the eastern region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Located on the eastern banks of the River Indus , Hazara is comprised of six administrative districts including Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Mansehra, Kohistan and the newly-created Torghar.
After the May 11 elections, local leaders of Sooba Hazara Tehrik (SHT), a political movement that ran for office in the name of Hazara province but failed to win a single seat, have demanded that PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf grant the status of province to the Hazara division in accordance with promises both the parties made during election campaigns.
Sooba Hazara Tehreek (SHT) warned the PML-N and PTI to pass a resolution in favor of Hazara province within 90 days after forming their governments – PMLN in the center and PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – otherwise the SHT would launch a protest campaign against them across the Hazara division.
The PTI has submitted a resolution for the creation of “Hazara province” in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly, which is yet to be debated and passed with a required 2/3rd majority.
PTI leader Ishfaq Paracha, talking to Truth Tracker by phone, said PTI wanted the creation of a number of provinces including Hazara province in Pakistan. “PTI has tabled a resolution [for Hazara Province] but we are not in favor of creating any province on Linguistic grounds,” said Paracha.
Prof Ibrahim, provincial president of Jamat-e-Islami, a collation partner of PTI in KP, said his party is in favor of establishing small administrative units all over Pakistan to provide more relief to the people. Prof Ibrahim told the Truth Tracker by phone that PTI should take its coalition partners into confidence on its resolution [for Hazara province]. He said JI would definitely support the resolution but, however, that PTI needed to make its position clear and take steps with mutual understanding, said the JI leader.
Jan Achakzai, spokesman of Jamiat-ul-Ulema -i-Islam (JUI-F), talking to Truth Tracker (TT), said JUI-F has always been in favor of Hazara province. “We are a collation partner of PML-N at the federal level and will decide mutually what to do next,” he said.
Federal Minister for Haj and Religious Affairs, Sardar Mohammad Yousuf, taking to media persons, has said the creation of Hazara province is part of the PML-N manifesto.
“PML-N is currently waiting for the resolution tabled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly…once PTI passes the resolution then PML-N will initiate steps for Hazara at the federal level,” said the minister.
Truth Tracker has found a majority of the political parties in favor of Hazara province, however, the resolution tabled by PTI in the KP assembly still needs to be passed with a 2/3rds majority before going to the National Assembly. The PML-N has, however, not yet started any efforts to pass the resolution with the required majority from the provincial assembly or to level grounds for the resolution at the National Assembly.