Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Stories and pictures of human suffering, killing and displacement of millions of people on newspapers; scenes of mass misery, towns and people submerged in water on TV screens are constantly reminding us that the worst disaster of the century is not over yet. Media is also informing that this massive flooding in Pakistan is even worse than Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004), Kashmir earthquake (2005) and Haiti earthquake (2010).

And I also conformed to this belief of media until the same media informed that how all the preparations of 14th August have been called off because of this worst disaster.

So it’s that time of the year again which is associated with celebrations all across the country, flag hoisting at every building and house, firecrackers in all the alleys, national songs being played on TV & radio and of course those same old debates that ‘what have we achieved in the last this many years!’

It is 14th August, our 63rd independence day. A grand day for every Pakistani, a day to cherish with full fervor but with half of the country submerged in water, it is hard and somewhat cruel to even imagine celebrating.

Hundreds of people dead, millions displaced, waterborne diseases, affected economy, bad governance, mismanagement, disappointing leaders; there is so much to mourn over that it’s actually hard to choose anyone.
One common thing among all these issues is the factor of distress, disappointment, distrust.
Politics has been termed a dirty business, our economy faces the threat of huge collapse, our society is in the depths of miseries, in short political, economic, social all corners of the country appear bleak.
We are moving ahead in this darkness aimlessly wishing that our hands may get hold of that switch which would turn on the light and eventually eat away the darkness.

And amidst this darkness, this Independence Day, 14th August 2010 appears like a symbol to me signalling the way to light.
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Here is a collection of some rare pictures of the time of partition 1947.
Posted by Shiraz Hassan.

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Few heart-breaking pictures of Pakistan’s worst flood disaster.


A Pakistani volunteer uses a small boat to evacuate locals in a flood-hit area of Nowshera.


Pakistan army soldiers pass a baby across a channel in the flood water as they help people flee from their flooded village following heavy monsoon rains in Taunsa, Pakistan.


A family takes refuge on top of a mosque while awaiting rescue from flood waters in Sanawa, a town located in the Muzaffar Gar district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

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During the last few days, the country has been through almost all kinds of man-made and natural disasters.

As if target killing on the streets of Karachi in the name of ethnic, political or personal rivalries and the military operation in the northern areas to wipe off the militants form the land of pure was not enough for the nation, nature unleashed at its worst upon the nation.

On Wednesday 28th July, a Pakistani Airbus passenger plane of Airblue crashed in densely wooded Margalla hills of the capital Islamabad, killing up to 152 people on board, making it one of the country’s worst air crashes ever.

On Thursday 29th July, Pakistani government declared a day of mourning and on that very day when the nation was offering silent prayers to the 152 ill-fated passengers of the Airblue flight ABQ-202, nature played havoc upon us, heavy rain and floods.

The death toll from flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Pakistan rose to nearly 1600 on as officials reported thousands more displaced.
Hundreds of homes and thousands of hectares (acres) of cultivated land have been destroyed in the northwest region. Entire villages have been wiped out and infrastructure severely damaged in different parts of the country. Rising water flow in rivers has broken the more than 100-year old record as the flood wave moves towards Sindh.
Malakand Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been worst affected, closely followed by the districts of southern Punjab. In just five days, more than 1,300 people have lost their lives and the number is rapidly rising.

Amidst all this crisis scene, Mr. President went ahead with his scheduled visit to France and UK in spite of widespread anger among country’s leadership about remarks by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, accusing Pakistan of “looking both ways” on exporting terror.

And while the rest of the citizens of the country are struggling to cope with the country’s worst flooding in 80 years, the Karachi city is literally burning. The murder of MQM leader and member of Sindh Assembly, Raza Haider, on Monday triggered violent tensions across Karachi claiming 73 lives till date and leaving around 150 people wounded. The Karachi city was already going through a dilemma named as ‘target killing’ and it seems that the death of Mr. Raza only proved to be the push of a finger on a weaken wall.

With plane crash, floods, runaway leadership, ethnic clashes & killing, the thought of what awaits us next is something that disturbs my mind.

“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is statistic.”

Here are the statistics:

Cost to Agriculture:
US$1,000,000,000
(US$ 1 Billion in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa only)

Pakistanis Affected:
2,500,000
(including incidents of disease and displacement and with rising threats of epidemics)

Households needing help:
100,000
(Mostly in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa)

People still waiting to be evacuated:
27,000
(Including 1500 tourists)

International Relief Pledged so far:
US$30,000,000+
(Including US$10 million from the United States, another US$10 million from the United Nations and US$8 million from United Kingdom)

Death Toll:
1650+
(Estimate of 1500+ in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa only)

A Pakistani villager with his daughter moves wades to safety.

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After years of demands and complains of the Pakhtoons, Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province is officially renamed as Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, when the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) signed the draft of the 18th Amendment in the first week of April 2010.The British rulers named NWFP- North Western Frontier Province, commonly as Sarhad in Urdu, for convenience after they had brought certain areas in the north-western part of their empire together as a single administrative unit.  

Pro-Pakhtoonkhwa:  

However, the name NWFP has not been acceptable to the Pushto-speaking Pakhtoons — who compose a substantial majority (about 58 per cent) of its population. People of NWFP are demanding to change the name of their province because NWFP is not a name, it is a location.
Pakhtoons demand that, “Punjabis have Punjab, Sindhis have Sindh, Balochis have Balochistan, then why Pakhtoons do not have their province name belonging to them alone!”
Pakhtoons are in the majority in this province so they demand ethnic names such as Pakhtoonkhwa, Pashtoonistan or Afghania, whereas other ethnic factions like Hazarwals and others strongly reject these names. According to statistics by NWFP government, 68% of people in the province speak Pashto. Other languages spoken are Hindko(18%), Seraiki(8%), Urdu & Punjabi(2%). It is clear from the statistics that majority of the people speak Pashto. Hence the argument is not valid that since there are different ethnic groups in the region who speak Hindko, Seraiki, Chitrali, Urdu and Punjabi, the name of the province should not be changed to Pakhtoonkhwa.   


ANP stance on the issue:
  

 Awami National Party (ANP) have long campaigned for the change to Pakhtoonkhwa and put forward the demand that since all other provinces in Pakistan have ethnolinguistic names, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan; so it is very fair for NWFP to change its name to Pakhtoonkhwa.
The issue was raised by ANP leader, late Bacha Khan with former President General Ziaul Haq, who had offered to give a name to the nameless province, but later on Zia did not accept any of the names proposed because the names were being politicized by Afghanistan. Hence the issue became controversial which compelled ANP to abandon negotiations with then martial law administrator.ANP which currently rules the NWFP province is supporting government of PPP in center on all issues on the condition that PPP would support them to change the name of NWFP to Pakhtoonkhwa.

The present government raised this issue in the parliament and opposition was faced by one of the major political party in the country, PML (N) who claimed that the new title could marginalize other ethnic groups in the province and they could lose their identity.  
Anti-Pakhtoonkhwa: 

However, renaming a province is not an easy procedure as it might seem to be since the renaming is not acceptable to the non-pashtoon population. Ever since the province has been renamed, a number of protests have been witnessed across the Hazara region, where Hindko speakers are dominant as compared to the Pashto speakers. The protests have led to death and casualties in the region which has added fuel to the fire.
Local population has condemned the renaming of the province as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa as it wiped out the identity of the people of Hazara and demanded of the government to declare Hazara as a province.   

 

  

   

Backdrop of Hazara region:

NWFP now known as Khyber Pakhtooonkhwa province has total 7 districts and Hazara is one of its seven divisions. Five districts make up Hazara; these are Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Kohistan and Mansehra.

Hazara Division is located along the famous Karakoram Highway and is bordered by the Indus River in the West, and Azad Jammu Kashmir in the East. Until the year 2000, the region was an administrative subdivision of the province known as Hazara Division, headquartered at the city of Abbottabad and Hazara Division was the biggest division of N.W.F.P. until the divisions were abolished in 2000 as part of an administrative shake up.

Hazara has the major industry of NWFP, including Telephone Industries of Pakistan, Hattar Industrial state. This region is famous for Tarbela Dam Haripur, Kakul military academy Abbottabad, tea plantation and best grade tobacco of Pakistan, in Mansehra. Karakoram highway also passes through Hazara, while not through rest of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

It is evident that this division is definitely an asset of the Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa region and both the pakhtoon and non-pakhtoon realize this fact. This is the main reason that Hazara people are struggling for their rights and demanding a separate province so that they can prove their worth.  

Hazara people believe that the way ANP has persuade it way to the name Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa has triggered massive protests throughout the Hazara division and even the majority Pashtun population is acknowledging that Hazara should also get the identification.
Some people are of the view that since the past of Awami National Party was anti-Pakistan, this is the reason they are planning to divide the country and people. 

Some locals argue that he name of Sindh province is because river Sindh flows through it and its civilization generated from it. Punjab is named because of five rivers flowing through the province. Hence Punabi or Sindhi is not a nation as ANP is lying to the nation.
The local leaders believe that Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa is not a fair name and it should be changed immediately and the new name should be above the ethnic differences. 

Common Solution:

Two simple solutions to this serious issue could be to change back the name of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa to NWFP or to accept the demands of non-pakhtoons and claim Hazara division as a separate province. However the creation of a new province can trigger new debates in the country as the other divisions of the country can also initiate demands of new provinces. Therefore, our attention should be focused on real issues such as water, power and gas crisis rather than getting into the controversy of claiming new provinces.

This issue calls for an immediate discussion by the politicians. A referendum most probably would be the best option in this regard so that the local people would feel their importance under a democratic government and would calm down slowly.
 

 – by Sana Jamal. (Written on 14th April 2010)