Peshawar - A couple of days back, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly separately passed two resolutions, asking the federal government to create Hazara province and rename Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as Hazara Pakhtunkhwa.
Both the motions are contrary to each other and the move untimely is viewed as a face-saving attempt in general and a political stunt in particular.
Face-saving because lawmakers from Hazara during electioneering 2013 had promised to create a separate province if they were voted to power. Political gimmicking as the stage is set to hold local bodies elections in the near future. To give a tough time to rivals, the PTI has played this card at the right time.
Interestingly, movers of both the resolutions — MPA Sardar Idrees and KP Health Minister Shaukat Yousafzai — belong to the ruling PTI that backs creation of more provinces in the country on administrative lines. The first resolution on creation of Hazara province evoked a heated debate and even caused divisions among the ranks of ruling three-party coalition; however, it was passed with a simple majority.
Creation of a new province is not simple as it entails a long, exhaustive and complicated process. So the passage of a simple resolution is clearly an attempt at face-saving in the Hazara region, besides being a political stunt, said a political analyst.
In its nine months government, the PTI has so far done nothing for the well being of the people and that’s why it needs a political slogan. To some extent, it has played well on the issue of Hazara province. The PTI fully supports the demand of Hazara province, apparently an attempt to cause damage to PML-N vote bank in Haraza division where Imran Khan’s party is gaining popularity with each passing day. No doubt, this move will help attract more voters. However, it will also damage the party in Pakhtun dominated areas of the province.
An MPA belonging to the PML-N openly rejected the resolution on Hazara province, while the KP CM and some PTI ministers and lawmakers left the house before the motion was put for voice vote.
Surprisingly, PTI Chairman Imran Khan is supporting Hazara province, while his party is divided over the issue, as PTI MPAs from Peshawar Valley and Malakand division are not in favour of Hazara province.
Moreover, the coalition parties are divided over the issue, as KP Senior Minister Sirajul Haq said on the floor of the house that instead of forming another province, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should be renamed as Hazara Pakhtunkhwa, showing his displeasure over the resolution.
So in the prevailing situation, it will be an uphill task to approve a resolution on Hazara province with a two-thirds vote from the provincial assembly, a constitutional requirement for the establishment of a new province.
It is a political gimmick and if the PTI is really interested in formation of a new province, why it has not taken its allied parties on board, a political observer said, adding that being part of KP, Hazara division was relatively peaceful. Therefore, at this stage, it will be better to avoid starting a political movement there. Nobody is against establishing new provinces but they should be formed at an appropriate time.
In order to counter Hazara province resolution, Shaukat Yousafzai and Sirajul Haq moved another resolution again, asking the federal government to rename Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as Hazara Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, it was too passed with simple majority in the presence of CM Pervez Khattak who had come back to the hall when the second resolution was tabled.
The PTI for now has given a general impression that it has honoured the commitment made with the people of Hazara during the election campaign. Whether the province is renamed or a separate one is carved out, only time will tell.