PFS 12: Provinces and Assorted Fragments

Chapter 12


The word “provinces” calls to the mind the idea of a nation that has been divided into smaller blocks for administrative reasons. Each province is one part that contributes to the whole.

In the case of Pakistan this idea is misleading – Pakistan’s provinces belong to the Pakistani state in name only, with vast swathes of Pakistan falling outside the bounds of any control. Indeed more than half the land area of Pakistan is outside the control of the Pakistan government. Much of this area is sparsely populated, but the peoples in such areas have either declared independence, or are seeking separation from Pakistan. The state of Pakistan can be compared to a shattered cookie within an intact wrapper – each fragment is separate, but held together forcibly by the wrapper. The “wrapper” that holds the Pakistan state together is the Pakistan army, which has regularly massacred people within those provinces in an effort to maintain control.

In 2006 Amnesty International published a report (159) about human rights violations in the tribal areas of Pakistan. An excerpt from the report says:

“..In the “war on terror”, Pakistan has violated a wide array of human rights, including the right to life, to the security of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, to freedom from torture, other ill-treatment and enforced disappearance, and to legal remedies and reparations.”

Pakistan has four provinces, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and the Northwest Frontier Province. The map below depicts the provinces of Pakistan.

Punjab, Sindh and the Northwest frontier provinces (N.W.F.P.) form the “core provinces” of Pakistan. These were the provinces that voted to be part of Pakistan from the outset. These provinces form less than half the land area of Pakistan, but are home to over 80% of Pakistan’s population, which, in the absence of any reliable recent census is estimated to be between 160 and 170 million in 2006.

Punjab is by far the dominant province, with Punjabis comprising over 50% of Pakistan’s total population, and contributing over 60% of the personnel in the Pakistan armed forces. The fact that most of the population and economic activity of Pakistan occurs in these three provinces can be seen in the photograph below, which shows a map of Pakistan super-imposed on a satellite photograph of the Indian subcontinent at night. Almost all of Pakistan is dark, except for a strip close to the Indian border representing the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and N.W.F.P., which show lights and population activity.

BALOCHISTAN: Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, comprising 42% of the land area, but it has a population of only about 7 million – or just over 4% of Pakistan’s population. Balochistan became part of Pakistan after it was forcibly annexed by the Pakistani army after Pakistan was created in 1947.

Balochistan is rich in natural resources, including natural gas and minerals. The people of Balochistan have long fought for independence of their land from Pakistani rule, and more recently for a fair share of the proceeds from the natural resources being exploited in Baluchistan.

In return, the Pakistan army and successive governments have shown that they want the natural resources more than they want the people of Balochistan. Despite a long struggle the sparse population of Balochistan cannot match the firepower of the Pakstani army. A series of massacres of Balochi tribals have occurred with the use of deadly force, including helicopter gun ships. This has resulted in the death in 2006 of a prominent and respected Balochi leader and a fierce opponent of Pakistani occupation, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.

F.A.T.A. The F.A.T.A. – or Federally Administered Tribal Areas is a euphemism for a completely lawless area that does not come under Pakistani control at all. It is a strip of land on the Northwest border of Pakistan with Afghanistan populated by tribes, of whom less than 2% live in urban areas. They do not recognize Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and the area is home to a thriving arms industry in which clones of almost any type of small arms are made in small workshops (139).

The Pakistan army actually entered the F.A.T.A. for the first time in its history in 2002 on the pretext of helping the US in its war on terror. In 2006 the same army made an ignominious retreat from the area after suffering hundreds of casualties, signing a peace deal with the Taliban who control an area of the F.A.T.A. called Waziristan (see map on page 136). The “peace deal” (160) made by the Pakistani Army with people who are supposed to be Pakistani citizens guarantees that the Pakistani army will never return to Waziristan and a return of confiscated weapons, as well as the payment of reparations for damage. This has been described as a defacto acceptance of an independent “Islamic Emirate of Waziristan” – ruled by the Taliban, in an area that serves as a safe harbor for the Al Qaeda and other assorted Islamist militia personnel.

No comments: