QK archives: This interview was originally published (March 2008) by THE NEWS on Sunday.
Haji Muhammad Adeel (b. October 25, 1944 - d. 18 November 2016) was a veteran politican affiliated with the Awami National Party and its predecessors. A former Senator who played a role in the passage of the 18th amendment and prior to that deputy speaker Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly.
Our opposition to foreigners is not limited just to foreign armies. We are against all foreign soldiers, whether regular or irregular, Al-Qaeda or Taliban.
By Raza Rahman Khan
Haji Muhammad Adeel is a prominent leader of the Awami National Party (ANP). He is the son of a famous Khudai Khidmatgar activist Haji Abdul Jalil Nadvi, who was the first political prisoner from India to be imprisoned in Andaman Islands by the British authorities under the Rollet Act.Haji Adeel has worked as the provincial finance minister and as the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly in the Frontier. He has also served as the ANP's central information secretary. These days he is the central vice-president of his party. The News on Sunday talked to him recently in Peshawar. Excerpts of his interview follow:
The News on Sunday: How do you feel being a Hindko-speaking leader of a party which espouses Pakhtoon nationalism?
Haji Adeel: I am very comfortable with that. Hindko is as old a language as Pashto is. Both Hindko and Pashto are the languages of Pashtoons. Hindko is not a dialect of Punjabi which is only 500 years old.
Then there are other Hindko speakers in the ANP -- Ilyas Bilour, Haji Ghulam Bilour, Qazi Anwar, Aqil Shah etc. Even in pre-partition days, there was Yahya Jan, a Hindko speaker who served as a minister in Ghaffar Khan's provincial government. The ANP has accommodated Hindkowans more than their strength warrants. It has given tickets to Hindkowans where they enjoy the support of the majority, like in Peshawar the party has awarded tickets to me, Haji Bilour, Bashir Bilour and Aqil Shah.
TNS: Are there any talks going on between the ANP and the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami (Party PkMAP) for unification?
HA: No talks are being held now, though we have made some attempts in the past. But on 95 per cent of the issues, the two parties have similar views. The difference is over technical details. We would like to come together under one umbrella. If that does not happen, the ANP has a policy not to contest elections against other nationalist forces.
TNS: Recently, a number of people have joined the ANP and some have left it. Does this means some radical shift has occurred after the visit of the party's president Asfandyar Wali Khan's visit to the United States?
HA: No, there is no radical shift. Our principled stance (on all national and international issues) is very much intact. About the joining of politicians like Khwaja Hoti, Ghani Dad, Sarfaraz Khan, I welcome them. But at the same time I want to clarify that no one has left ANP. If someone says former senator Qazi Anwar has done so, then I will says he retired from politics in 2003. So, he has not left ANP to join some other party. He has rather re-joined active politics.
TNS: Pakistan is undergoing a lot of political turmoil. What do you think is the remedy for that. Can 1973 constitution put all this in order.
HA: If you abrogate the 1973 constitution, it will be very difficult to form a new constitution. Smaller provinces have lost faith in Islamabad and they are very like to seek a confederation if and when we try to forge a new constitution.
We want the Constitution restored in its original form. We want all the amendments made by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf removed, except for one or two amendments which were unanimously passed.
But at the same time we ask for some other constitutional amendments. For instance, we would like to give more powers to the Senate like on moving and passing of the Finance Bill. We would also like to make amendments to ensure provincial autonomy by leaving only four subjects with the federal government -- that is, foreign affairs, currency, defence and inter-provincial communication. In fact, when the 1973 constitution was unanimously passed, it guaranteed this autonomy but unfortunately it did not materialise. Now, all this can be ensured by introducing 18th Amendment in the constitution.
If dictators like Zia and Musharraf can change the constitution with the help of the mullahs, why can't it be changed genuinely for attaining the purposes I have mentioned earlier.
TNS: That means that you are a firm believer in the federal system. Do you believe Pakistan is a genuine federation?
HA: When we talk of a federal structure, we are talking about provincial autonomy and financial autonomy and when we say giving the subject of currency to the Centre we are not saying that we will give financial powers to the federal government. But people mix up the two things. At the moment, the State Bank of Pakistan and the Central Board of Revenue are controlling all the financial affairs of the provinces. These bodies follow the directives of the central government and in the provincial governments they have their lobbies. We, instead, want provincial boards of revenue
There is a mafia operating in Pakistan which consists of Punjab's bureaucrats, that province's billionaires, Karachi's rich and powerful billionaires and the military and civil bureaucracy in Islamabad. I will also like to add Wapda (Water and Power Development Authority) to this list because it is not giving us our share of profit it earns from power generation in our province. The accumulated arrears in this head amount to 6 trillion rupees. I have calculated the figure keeping in view the interest rates which the State Bank charges from my province on its loans. When our money is lying with the federal bank, why shouldn't we charge interest on it.
Same goes for natural gas pumped from Sui in Balochistan. The town has been providing gas since 1952 to the whole country. Around the same time, natural gas was discovered in the Gulf states. Look at the current conditions in Gulf states and compare it with Dera Bugti. There is no match. We are buying gas from Sui at the rate of 50 paisas per unit. Now Iran is asking for eight dollars per unit of gas for the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. Though Pakistan thinks the Iranian demand is irrational, it is ready to pay four dollars per unit. Moreover, every year Rs 9 billion subsidy is given to Sindh, Punjab, Pakhtoonkhwa (Frontier) and cement and fertilizer industries for the purchase of Sui gas. Why is this subsidy given from the income generated by natural gas in Balochistan? If subsidy has to be given, then the federal government should pay it from its own resources. Same is the case with Pakhtoonkhwa because we are not getting our share in the Central Excise Duty on tobacco grown here. Also we are not paid our share in the money earned from the export of timber and precious and semi-precious stones. Punjab is using one million acre feet of our share of water without our permission. Its half a million land is being cultivated by our waters but Punjab does not give us even a single grain of wheat to compensate for that. Instead Punjab imposes restrictions on the inter-provincial movement of wheat (to prevent it from landing in the Frontier).
TNS: Why is the federal structure not being successful in Pakistan?
HA: First of all you have to treat all the units equally in sectors like health, education, infrastructure and above all job opportunities. A healthy competition (among the federating units) and a uniform institutional development, therefore, cannot be expected. Then we have a resource sharing formula which strongly favours Punjab because of its larger population. It was Punjab which rejected the federal divisible pool on the basis of population when Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan. Even in the political sphere, Punjab then did not accept population as a basis for allocating seats in the parliament.
TNS: Of late, there has been a statement by President Musharraf that no foreign troops will be allowed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). How do you foresee situation unfolding in Fata in the context of this statement?
HA: We will never approve of any foreign troops on the land of Pakistan. The ANP has been against the American presence in Pakistan since 1950s. But our opposition to foreigners is not limited just to foreign armies. We are against all foreign soldiers, whether regular or irregular, Al-Qaeda or Taliban.
In Fata, irregular armies are present and the responsibility for their presence lies with our agencies. Al-Qaeda men came to Pakistan with the help of the then government's agencies, American weapons dollars and Saudi petro-dollars.
At the same time, we believe when security agencies bombard or operate against foreigners, local people get killed and their property gets destroyed.
There is an invisible government within the government which is active in Fata. The Pakistan Army is totally blocked and surrounded. Our troops can't go outside their barracks. Political agents can't go outside their offices. When the military is not so effective, what is the need for sending more troops to Fata?
Sealing bazaars is not the solution. This is not the way to enforce the writ of the government. Military is behaving like a colonial force in Fata. Our policies in Fata have completely failed. The only solution is a genuine Loya Jirga (grand assembly of the people). It is ironic that the militants and the government do not allow TV channels to cover news in the area; there is complete ban on newspapers' entry. The government has completely banned political parties' entry in Fata but mullahs are still allowed to operate through mosques and madrasas to make political speeches five times a day.
My suggestion is that Fata should be changed into Pata (Provincially Administered Tribal Areas) and they should be given representation in the provincial assembly.
TNS: Will ANP join ARD and endorse the Charter of Democracy signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif?
HA: These are two different things. The charter is a moral and written commitment on the part of the parties who would become signatories to it that when they get the power, they will abide by its 36 points including not allowing the military to be the part of the political system and to avoid using the judiciary for political purposes. These points are not bad but they need further elaboration, like on the financial powers for the Senate, provincial autonomy and the Constitution's reverting to its original form. We demand clear policies by the signatories of the charter on Balochistan and Waziristan. We want a clear commitment that in future the Pakistan Army will not be used against Pakistanis.