Pakistan-proper consists of 4 provinces Punjab, KPK (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), Sindh, Balochistan and a special region FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) - a total population of approximately 180 million people and covering an area of nearly 796,000 Square km (population & area of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan deducted from these figures). The population distribution (approx) is as under:
• Punjab = 56% (or 100 million)
• Sindh = 23.5% (or 40 million)
• KPK = 13.5 % (or 25 million)
• Balochistan = 4.5 % (or 9 million)
• FATA = 2.5 % (or 5 million)
Even a casual look at these figures suggests that the weightage of the country's pillars is severely uneven - Punjab overshadows all other provinces combined. This disparity is also reflected in the political setup of the country where Punjab alone gets 148 National Assembly seats out of 272 (directly elected) while the combined tally of Sindh, KPK, Balochistan and FATA is 124 seats.
The extreme disparity in population and political clout gives rise to severe problems at the federation level and even within Punjab where some communities, especially the Seraikis in the west and south complain of being neglected by the rulers of Lahore (Central Punjab). The movement for a Seraiki province has been around for years now.
A similar situation exists in KPK too where people of the Hazara region demand a separate province. Also people of the Pashtun belt (Zhob to Quetta) in Balochistan have been raising voices for a separate province.
The debate on making new provinces normally gets hijacked by political motivations in all provinces. While the ANP or PPP would love to see Punjab divided; they don't like the same to be done in KPK or Sindh. Similarly while the PML-N may be demanding to carve up a Hazara province from KPK, they drag their feat on division of Punjab. Thus a debate that should have focused on the administrative & managerial benefits of creating smaller provinces, is soon overtaken by tempers shooting up at the slightest mention of division of a province. What is the way out then?
Well new provinces definitely need to be carved up from the existing ones. Since this issue affects the life of more or less all Pakistanis, I decided to dig into the matter a bit & do some research. What I (personally) concluded – as an ordinary Pakistani stakeholder – is that a total of 16 provinces can be created in the country: 3 in KPK, 6 in Punjab, 3 in Sindh and 4 in Balochistan. Creation of the new provinces will have at least 2 major benefits, among many others:
• The 4 provincial capitals - Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta - get a disproportionately greater share of respective provincial resources while other major cities like Bahawalpur, Multan, Sukkur, Dera Ismail Khan or Khuzdar get neglected. However, with 16 provinces, we will have 16 cities as provincial capitals - which means more cities will join the relatively developed club.
• Existing provincial capitals are too far away for majority populations of the respective provinces. Examples: People from Rahim Yar Khan or Dera Ghazi Khan can't reach Lahore easily; Ghotki folks find Karachi too far; Dera Ismail Khan is far away from Peshawar and Gwadar/Turbat are painfully far away from Quetta. With new provinces spanning smaller geographic areas, it will be easier for people to reach their respective provincial capitals.
Details of the scheme follow.
(Disclaimer: This proposal is entirely my own initiative and has nothing to do with the party I support).
Provinces in KPK
With its capital at Peshawar, this province may comprise of Peshawar Division, Mardan Division, Malakand Division, and Kohistan & Torghar districts of KPK. The province may also incorporate 3 adjacent tribal agencies and 2 F.Rs of FATA i.e. Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency, Khyber Agency, F.R Peshawar and F.R Kohat.
With its capital at Bannu, Kohat or Dera Ismail Khan Khan, this province may comprise of Kohat Division, Bannu Division and Dera Ismail Khan Division of KPK. The province may also incorporate 4 adjacent tribal agencies and 4 F.Rs of FATA i.e. Orakzai Agency, Kurram Agency, North Waziristan Agency, South Waziristan Agency, F.R Bannu, F.R Lakki Marwat, F.R Tank and F.R Dera Ismail Khan.
With its capital at Abbotabad, this province may include Abbotabad, Batgram, Haripur and Mansehra districts of KPK.
Provinces in PUNJAB
With its capital at Rawalpindi or Jhelum, this province may comprise of Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, Mianwali and Khushab districts of Punjab.
With its capital at Multan, this province may comprise of Multan, Khanewal, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Rajanpur, DG Khan and Bhakkar districts of Punjab.
South Punjab / Bahawalpur
With its capital at Bahawalpur, this province may comprise of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Lodhran, Bahawlnagar and Vehari districts of Punjab.
With its capital at Faisalabad, this province may comprise of Faisalabad, TT Singh, Jhang, Chiniot, Sargodha, Pakpattan, Sahiwal and Okara districts of Punjab.
With its capital at Gujranwala or Gujrat, this province may comprise of Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin and Narowal districts of Punjab.
With its capital at Lahore, this province may comprise of Lahore, Shiekhupura, Qasur and Nankana Saheb districts of Punjab.
Provinces in SINDH
With its capital at Larkana, this province may comprise of Ghotki, Kashmore, Jaccobabad, Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Qambar Shahdadkot, Noshehru Feroz, Dadu and Nawabshah districts of Sindh.
Central Sindh / Hyderabad
With its capital at Hyderabad, this province may comprise of Hyderabad, Mitiari, Jamshoro, TM Khan, Sanghar, Mirpur Khas, Tando Allahyar, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Badin and Thatta districts of Sindh.
South Sindh / Karachi
With its capital at Malir, this province may comprise of Malir, Karachi South, Karachi East, Karachi Central, Karachi West districts of Sindh.
Provinces in BALOCHISTAN
South Pakhtunkhwa / Quetta
With its capital at Quetta, this province may comprise the Pashtuns areas of Quetta, Pishin, Harnai, Ziarat, Qila Abdullah, Zhob, Loralai, Qila Saifullah, Musakhail and Sherani districts of Balochistan.
Central Balochistan / Kalat
With its capital at Kalat or Khuzdar, this province may comprise of Kalat, Mastung, Nushki, Chaghi, Kharan, Washuk and Khuzdar districts of Balochistan.
East Balochistan / Sui
With its capital at Sui or Sibi, this province may comprise of Bolan, Jhal Magsi, Naseer Abad, Jafar Abad, Sibi, Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Barkhan districts of Balochistan.
South Balochistan / Gwadar
With its capital at Gwadar, this province may comprise of Awaran, Panjgur, Gwadar, Kech and Lasbela districts of Balochistan.
Note: The maps shown in the blog are my own design (permission granted for reuse).
-The writer is a tribesman from Bajaur Agency (FATA)
and tweets at @PTI_FATA (no official association with PTI)