Regional Assertions In Pakistan

The Pakistan state and society have been facing the crucial issue of ethno-cultural assertions for quite some time now. The assertions in Baluchistan and Sindh have acquired violent forms leading to grave violations of human rights. The Seriaki (Multani) speaking people in Punjab have been demanding a separate Province for long. The first reaction of the state has been to put the issue under the carpet of ‘provincialism’. However, the recent reference of Pakistan

National Assembly to create two new provinces in Punjab indicates that the state in Pakistan is gradually recognizing the ethno-cultural assertions. According to APP report (31st May, 2012) which was carried by the media in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari sent a reference (on 31st May, 2012) to the National Assembly speaker, calling for formation of a commission to look into issues relating to creation of two new provinces – Multan and Bahawalpur – in Punjab. The commission, to be comprised of six senators, six MNAs and two members from the Punjab Assembly, will also initiate the process of amendments to the constitution for the purpose.

Following is the text of the reference:

The National Assembly in its 41st session on May 3 passed a resolution to the effect that in order to address the grievances and to secure the political, administrative and economic interests of the people of the southern region of Punjab and to empower them in this regard, a new province to be known as province of Janoobi (Southern) Punjab be created from the present province of Punjab. The provincial assembly of Punjab has also passed a similar resolution demanding parliament and federal government to create a new province of Janoobi (Southern) Punjab and also to revive the earlier status of Bahawalpur as a province. In order to implement the aforesaid resolutions and before a process is initiated to amend the constitution in terms of Article 239 thereof it is expedient that a commission may be constituted comprising six members from the Senate to be nominated by the chairman, six members from the National Assembly to be nominated by the speaker and two members from the provincial assembly of Punjab to be nominated by the speaker of the provincial assembly. The commission shall look into the issues relating to the fair distribution of economic and financial resources, demarcation, allocation/re-adjustment of seats in the National Assembly, Senate and the provincial assembly concerned and allocation of seats in the new province on the basis of population, including seats of minorities and women and other constitutional, legal and administrative matters. The provisions of the constitution, which would require amendment inter alia, include articles 1(2), 51, 59 and 106 of the constitution. The commission shall submit its report to speaker as well as to prime minister within 30 days of its notification, which will be followed by initiation of the process of amendment of the constitution.

TAILPIECE: Looking for Mr. Jinnah’s ‘Secular State’ Speech

It is interesting to note that Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is seeking the help of All India Radio (AIR) to locate the Pakistan founding father, Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s secular speech. According to Anita Joshua, reporting for The Hindu, New Delhi from Islamabad ( June 4,2012) that “ taking advantage of the improved climate between the two countries, PBC has requested the AIR for a copy of founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11,1947, speech in which he said “religion or caste or creed… has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

According to The Hindu report, the PBC Director General, MurtazaSolangi wrote to his AIR counterpart in this regard and later requested Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India, Mr. Shahid Malik to take up the matter with AIR and has since been told the request would be looked into. Mr. Solangi told The Hindu that if a copy of the speech of utmost importance to Pakistan was given to PBC, due acknowledgement would be given to AIR and a ceremony would be organized to celebrate the handover.

According to The Hindu this is one recording of Jinnah’s, which PBC does not have because it was done by a team sent from Delhi just ahead of the Partition. Out of the three stations of AIR located in Lahore, Peshawar and Dhaka (which became the part of Pakistan) the Lahore and Peshawar stations being Class B Stations were without recording facilities. Therefore, AIR sent a team from Delhi to record the August 11 address of Mr. Jinnah to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi after his election as its first President.

The Report further provides that the speech is of great significance to Pakistan as it battles to reclaim the nation that Mr. Jinnah had envisaged. In fact, according to (eminent Pakistani) historian Mubarak Ali, the speech was censored because it caused great discomfort within the Muslim League and the bureaucracy. A serious attempt was made to censor the speech before it was published in newspapers. After Mr. Jinnah’s death, the direction given in that speech was replaced with the Objective Resolution that laid the foundation of an Islamic state. Subsequently also, various attempts have been made to black out the speech. Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto claimed that attempts were made to burn the speech and a concerted effort was made during the regime of military dictator Zia-ul-Haq to remove all reference to that historic address from textbooks. Given the circumstances, securing a copy of the speech is more than just a case of getting access to a recording of archival importance to Pakistan

(ICPS Research Desk)

ICPS-International Center For Peace Studies

Journal of Peace Studies, a quarterly research journal is being published under the auspices of the Centre since 1993. The Centre publishes Occasional Papers / Monographs and Books on various issues relating to peace and conflict from time to time.

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