Sherpao speaks against ‘hegemony’ of Punjab


Former interior minister and Qaumi Wattan Party Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao while repeating his demand for early merger of the Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said that those hindering this move are in fact enemies of Pakhtuns.

“The merger of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could enable disintegrated Pakhtuns to become united, which is essential for getting rid of imposed trends of extremism and terrorism,” he remarked while addressing a public gathering in his native Sherpao village of Charsada district on Saturday.

The public meeting was arranged in connection with the 42nd anniversary of the late Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao. The QWP activists from all over the region turned to the public gatherings whereas they paid glowing tributes to the late Hayat Sherpao who was one amongst top founding leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party and confidential aide of the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

In his address, Aftab Sherpao stressed on the need to follow the footsteps of the political legends and criticised all those who were ‘conspiring’ to reverse the development and unification of the Pakhtuns. He univocally criticised the attempts to sabotage the FATA’s merger, saying that the Pakhtuns have rendered unmatchable sacrifices for the protection of Pakistan.

“We are being deprived of any prospects of a developed future,” he said. For the first time in the history, sincere attempts were made to merge the tribal areas with the province, he said, adding that the enemies were trying to damage the merger process. “We will oppose all such attempts that are intended to divide us,” he said.

Sherpao clarified that such steps would promote consternation and further weakening the federation. By uniting the Pakhtuns, Pakhtunkhwa province would become the second largest province of Pakistan “which is not acceptable to the enemies,” he said. He believed that all the stakeholders were in favour of the integration but the merger was being delayed gratuitously in order to maintain the ‘hegemony’ of Punjab.

“Pakistan being a federation of different nations, is being governed by a single nationality which has weakened the unity of the country,” he said, adding that the resources of the provinces were also being exploited and “Punjab is being developed at the cost of smaller provinces.”

Despite the 18th constitutional amendment, “the provinces are still not autonomous and are not being given control of their natural resources,” he said while demanding the provincial autonomy. Being the largest producer of the natural gas and oil, the ‘cheapest’ electricity was being used to run Punjab whereas Pakhtunkhwa was facing uncontrolled load shedding and shortage of energy for the industrial development, he alleged.

Taking the matter even further, Sherpao stressed on the need of holding an unbiased census, adding that the efforts were underway to sabotage the credibility of the census in which the counting of data from Pakhtunkhwa will be held in Islamabad whereas the counting of the data from Punjab will be held in Lahore and that of Sindh will be held in Karachi.

He clarified that QWP would never accept rigging the rights of Pakhtuns and would launch mass protests if attempts were made to sabotage the credibility of the census. Presenting his stance on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Sherpao said that the foes were also attempting to single out Pakhtunkhwa from the development projects associated with the multi-billion dollars project.

The former federal minister appealed to the federal government to revise its foreign policy keeping in view the international developments in Europe and the US. Internationally, he said the primary focus was being laid on development of economies whereas strategic interests were being dealt at secondary level. He said that sincere efforts should be made to review the foreign policy so that Pakistan may be able to play its role in international politics effectively.