Seraiki card

Prime Minister GilaniFollowing the grand victory of his son in by-election to a seat vacated by Shah Mehmud Qureshi Prime Minister Gilani’s triumphal return to his hometown, Multan, was very much expected, and it was so.

During his two-day stay over the weekend elation that copiously oozed from his comments, media encounters and press talks was palpable, often bordering on crass exaggeration.He insisted there would be no ‘caretaker or chair-taker’ and neither was he going ‘upward or downward, inside or outside’ and would certainly complete his term ending next year – though his continuity hangs in the balance as he is charged with contempt of court offence.Only last month he was so much dejected and uncertain that he dubbed him as ‘ghazi or shaheed’.

What’s it that has lent so much bombast to his expression? There could be some hidden reason that he is in high spirits, but we don’t know yet, except for the fact that PPP has taken a grievous hit with desertion of Shah Mehmud Qureshi.That Javed Hashmi, another Multani, who too has also climbed on Imran Khan’s bandwagon, is no less potential threat to the PPP’s prospects in that region.

So if the prime minister has raised higher than ever before his banner for a Seraiki province and has loudly communicated his resolve to hold out against odds including his political future, it was expected.But in the eyes of the people of Pakistan, who are confronted with the fundamental challenges of existence and survival under unremitting burden of daily life, this one-up showmanship is highly disappointing if not offensive and obscene.

As the election year gets under way Prime Minister Gilani should have been celebrating completion of public-related projects, and not inaugurating, on a daily basis, new projects for which there are neither resources nor on-the-ground plans.At end of his fourth year, the economy is in a profoundly bad shape, lawlessness a routine affair and curses of corruption and cronyism hold governance in choking embrace.What makes Gilani so much sanguine about his political future it’s beyond an ordinary man’s belief and comprehension.

If not a political gimmick to reclaim the political territory lost to adversaries in southern Punjab, particularly in Multan, there is not much of logic and rationale to Prime Minister Gilani’s call for the Seraiki province.After his party has forfeited its ‘Sindh card’, he thinks he should compensate that loss by flashing ‘Seraiki card’.And do are doing quite a few other out-of-depth political leaders.

At this critical hour in our national life raising bogey of more provinces smacks nothing but political objectives to serve the proponents’ electoral plans.Given that in the last over 64 years the only success in that exercise is merely changing the name of erstwhile NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa the advocacy for more provinces is not likely to convert that dream into reality.Obstacles in the way are daunting – of which the most formidable is the constitution which envisages Pakistan to have four provinces and if it permits any tinkering to this it is only permitted in terms of redefining and re-fixing existing provincial boundaries.

The creation of a new province in accordance with constitution’s stipulations is indeed a long haul.And then why these champions exposing the cause of more provinces didn’t do it when they helped pass the 18th Constitutional Amendment? But even more important is the need to ponder, quietly and objectively, over the practical difficulties in disturbing the existing boundaries which would entail massive restructuring of demographic character and its impact on issues like future of settlers – because when you talk of a ‘Seraiki’ province you uphold its linguistic élan.

Then there is also the danger of creation to be limited only for the province for the Seraiki people then why not separate provinces for the Hazarawals in KP, for Pushtuns in Balochistan, division of Sindh and revival of princely states of Bahawalpur, Kalat, Khairpur and many other regions having independent ethnic and linguistic peculiarities.Consider the complexity of the question of new provinces; you didn’t concede the Pushtuns’ life-long dream by naming the NWFP as Pushtunistan.

If Prime Minister Gilani means what he said about the justification for Seraiki province, if not administrative as suggested by Nawaz Sharif, then he is talking of a province confined to the Seraiki-speaking people.And if his is only an election gimmick – as the MQM’s support for Hazarawals (quite a chunk of them live in Karachi) has the inherent potential to neutralise the rising Pushtun clout in Karachi seems to be – it is understandable.And let that be only as much, alternative is neither possible nor desirable under the present circumstances. – Brecorder