The demand for new provinces in Pakistan

Syed Mansoor Ahmed

Pakistan, contemporarily, is running on with four provinces, two autonomous states, and one federal territory. Whereas, all provinces are having their provincial assemblies. Where within their local and national-oriented leadership is active for their due rights. On the other hand, the current administrative structure is borrowed from the former British Colonialism. The prism of the government is divided into federal, provincial, and local government bodies.  

But in the last few years, the political, social, and economic issues are increasing among the units. The mainstream political and general public is arguing about poor policies and bad governance, which further arose the problems. The observing one is lingual, resource allocation, low development, and less representative in government based on ethnicity and identity politics.

Such backwardness and ignorance from normal politics, priorities, and policies gave the pace to the movements of new provinces. But the deciding forces consider it the unending threat to national integration and challenge for the survival of the federation.

But above all, many other countries are standing examples with a greater number of states and provinces. There is an effective administration, fair economic ratio, and availability of all basic needs. For instance, the United States of America, which is having 50 states. However, the neighbouring country India has 29 states and 8 union territories. Even more importantly, Turkey is the 37th largest geographical state as compared to Pakistan, which is 36th in number with 796,096 sq. km landmasses. The number of administrative units in Turkey is 81. Whereas, the GDP is the world 16th largest where per income capita is more in terms of Pakistan. So, a division based on invaluable reasons and logic would lead to better consequences.

After the profound 18th constitutional amendment, it has devolved lots of administrative powers and ministries to the provincial governments. It was a good sign but also provoked multiple problems for the federation. After renaming the erstwhile NWFP with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa KPK, the local ethnic of the Hazara division also stood for the demand for separate provinces. Nevertheless, the functional crisis in South Punjab and Bahawalpur also become the companion of the camp. Meanwhile, the mobilization of Urdu-speaking folks and the Pashtun population of South Balochistan are also tie up their wish for separate provinces.

In contrast, the lingual movements are solely based on a political narrative. It is crystal clear that the general public will is still missing from such a vital phenomenon. The distressing factor is these ethnic-lingual activities, which could not address the real need of the people. While, it would be created more space for further exploitation, the pressure groups and influential parties can work ruthlessly and worthless.

In fact, there are possible positive and negative outcomes with the formation of new provinces. Pakistan will ultimately grow faster, it is because of the fair allocation of resources that will ultimately flourish every individual life. It will enhance the economic opportunities and balance the small provinces by an efficient distribution. While, the actual provincial autonomy, power of policy formulation, and amply share in the revenue will lead to a precise end. The foremost benefit will be that it made the civil administration responsible. The policing system could become effective by controlling less population. New provinces also come with more standardized health and education systems. By putting the check and balance, it will promote the fad of accountability. On the other hand, it will also surface hindrances for the survival of the federation. It affects the functionalism of the state and leads to the formation of local parties that will care more own benefits rather than the nation as a whole. As now the state divide without keeping the logical and geographical impositions, it will shuffle the natural resources and agriculture to one individual province. It fundamentally affects the pattern of development and revenue. By doing the same, the least developed units again ask the central government for funds, but the federal will sustain such demand. Therefore, the new provinces should divide on ground realities. The division based on ethnic-lingual movements will induce self-centred isolation of the small units.

In a nutshell, the demand for the new province must be based on good governance, efficient administration, and fair economic development rather than on languages and ethnic principles. Such doing will strengthen the national integration and survival of the federation.         

The writer is alumni of the University of Management and Technology Lahore and a Public Policy Analyst based in Quetta.

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