Saturday, 12 November 2016

QK archives: Renaming NWFP debate

published by the NATION 23rd March 2004
Renaming NWFP debate
The Pukhtoons initially hailed the advent of the British annexation of the present NWFP with British India during 1846-49 since it delivered them from the atrocities of Sikh Rule.
Due to the fluctuating policies of British India on its North-Western Frontier, the Britons first annexed it into Punjab and after a little stabilisation following signing of Durand Treaty with Afghanistan in 1893, they constituted these areas into a separate Chief Commissionerate Province in 1901 run by Frontier Crimes Regulations and deprived of all rights and privileges enjoyed by other provinces of the rest of British India. They were even reluctant to upgrade it to Governor’s Province because of the special status of Tribal Areas, which were ruled by the Political Department in the External Affairs of British India at Delhi, and with which the settled districts had been geographically indivisible and contiguous part.
Muslim opinion in the British India was outraged because of consistent refusal of British India to extend the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 and then of Montagu-Chelmsford reforms of 1919 to the Province. The famous 14 points of Quaid-i-Azam aimed at saving the Muslim-Hindu unity shattered by Congress after its communalist attitude, the point 13 demanded full provincial status for the Province. Muslim members in the Central Legislative Assembly persistently demanded the extension of reforms to the province and the upgradation of it into a full-fledged province. The writings of Sir Fazli Hussain of Punjab provide the living testimony to this fact.
1930 is watershed year in the history of subcontinent. For the first time Sir Mohammed Iqbal enunciated the “formation of a consolidated North-West Indian State” in Allahabad Muslim League meeting along religious lines as India, according to him, was irreconcilably divided between Muslims and Hindus. Though he did not demand separation but called for a Muslim State within India. Choudhri Rehmat Ali coined the name of Pakistan, the acronym of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sind and ‘tan’ of Baluchistan, which he subsequently substantiated in his pamphlet ‘Now or Never’ two years later.
By 1930, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was completely disillusioned with the Congress version of Muslim-Hindu unity. Therefore he left for London and remained there till 1935. Fortunately the same year in 1930 people of the Province rose against the British rule and a widespread movement gripped the province.
But unfortunately the leadership of the movement without studying the Indian political scene, which by then had been clearly divided into two distinct currents of Hindu and Muslim interests represented by Congress and Muslim League respectively, tied the destiny of the province in an unnatural alliance with the Congress and deprived it of some of its genuine rights because of the movement leadership’s dubious role during partition and afterwards. However the British administration buckled under the influence of Indian Muslim opinion and the struggle of the Frontier people, and alongside other reforms granting the province full provincial status in 1935 Act.
The name of the province remained unresolved because of the shifting priorities of Whitehall, most of them strategic in nature, till 1947. The Frontier Congress, predecessors of some of those clamouring for renaming the province, thrice held power in the province before the inception of Pakistan, while the Federal powers were wielded by their mother organisation, the All-India Congress, but renaming the province never occurred to them because their priorities had been identical with Delhi. During partition the Frontier Congress leadership in collusion with Indian National Congress tried to sabotage the unity of the Pakistan by refusing to join Pakistan and demanding a third option of Pathanistan in the referendum at the spur of the moment despite the tripartite agreement between Britain, Congress and Muslim League about partition, of which they had been a part.
But Nehru refused to grant the option of independence to the province given the fact that other states and provinces would have demanded such an alternative. Therefore, the bogey of Pakhtunistan was born with the birth of Pakistan. In this widespread net of conspiracy sponsored and abetted by Congress leadership at Delhi, Afghanistan was wittingly trapped and dragged in on the basis of ethnological and historical factors quite different from the Congress. So the genuine demand of renaming the province that should have been decided there and then before or after the inception of Pakistan got intertwined with external factors creating suspicions in the mind of successive Pakistani governments.
The world has changed. Cold War has gone for good. Region has changed and other changes are in the offing. The Pak-India thaw and initiation of bilateral dialogue aimed at resolving all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, has given birth to a new perspective to the whole scenario. Afghanistan is already undergoing radical transformations. Pakistan has, fortunately, also changed and is shedding most of its past baggage.
New thinking and a new beginning are needed inside and outside. The fragile edifice on which the State of Pakistan was sustained for the last 56 years is fast crumbling under the weight of global imperatives. In this connection the anachronism of NWFP needs a refreshing look. Given the fact that no strategic consideration vis-_-vis this Province exists, so it would be better to relieve the people of the province from an unnecessary exercise and waste of energy on this score. The more politicians harp on this issue the more the real issues are sidetracked.
So let it be once and for all decided. The name of Afghania can be traced back to the father of the nation. First coined by Choudhri Rehmat Ali in the proposed acronym of Pakistan as the second word ingredient of Pakistan, the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, substantiated it in his interview with the last Viceroy of India, Rear Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma:
“Mr Liaqat Ali Khan stated that the name of the Muslim State to be set up would definitely be Pakistan. Mr Jinnah explained the derivation of the word Pakistan - P for Punjab; A for Afghania (i.e. Pathan or NWFP); K for Kashmir; “I” for nothing because this letter was not in the word in Urdu; S for Sind and TAN for the last syllable for Baluchistan. Mr Liaqat Ali Khan said that the literal meaning for Pakistan was “pure land”. [See Record of Interview between Rear Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and Mr Jinnah and Mr Liaqat Ali Khan. Mountbatten Papers. Viceroy’s Interview No. 140, 17 May 1947, 6 PM, in Mansergh’s Transfer of Power, Volume X]
The ‘B’ of Bengal in the acronym was deliberately kept outside Pakistan, as Quaid-i-Azam and his colleagues really believed that it should remain one and united country with Calcutta its capital. But it was Congress and especially Nehru and Patel who scuttled the concept of a United Bengal country despite that the British had been in favour of it.
Allama Iqbal time and again referred to Pathan people and area as Afghania. In his allusion to Khushal Khan Khattak he says: Ai Hakime Millate Afghania, Ai Tabibe Illate Afghania. (O specialist of the nation of Afghania, O doctor of the frailty of Afghania)
Renaming the province will further cement our ties with Afghanistan. The ill will existing in some minds in Afghanistan about the treatment of Pakistan with their Pukhtoon brethren will thus be removed once for all. The Indian factor, which had also expediently trumpeted up the cause of Pakhtunistan in the past, will be dealt with. This pre-partition baggage burdening the shoulders of people of the Province will be successfully thrown in the dustbin of history. It will further contribute to the unity and cohesion of Pakistan. The unity in diversity will be complete with the addition of Afghania to Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and Kashmir as envisaged by Father of the Nation.
The BJP stalwarts, Attal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani, have rightly pointed out that Kashmir was creation of Congress and only their party was capable of resolving this issue with Pakistan. The same could be said of the renaming of our province which was also in a way creation of Congress (?) and only new set-up within Pakistan with no past baggage can settle this once for all. Properly naming our province can also sort out the lingering conflict with Afghanistan.
The Pukhtoon intellectuals have time and again stressed upon the name of Afghania, however, the verdict of the people of the province should be believed. The best way to ascertain the views of the people is to hold a referendum on the names of Afghania, Pukhtoonkhwa and Pukhtoonistan. Whatever the people of the province decide, that should be wholeheartedly accepted. But let us bury this hatchet once for all.

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