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Viability Of New Provinces History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The first ideological state of the World; Pakistan since its independence in yr 1947 followed the concept’ for electing the members of legislature / parliaments till the time of West Pakistan felt insecure of retaining their seats in the parliament against the erstwhile East Pakistan counterparts. Foreseeing their imminent defeat in the then forthcoming elections, West Pakistan was declared a separate Unit and given more number of seats in the Parliament based on population ratio. The country, since then, has been the victim of personal / party conveniences rather than maintaining a cohesive national approach towards resolution of issues confronted by the nation from time to time. It does not need to be over emphasized that the country continues to face serious administrative and economic issue in the absence of viable and prudent administrative division. The need to have or not to have new provinces has always fell prey to the political and personal expediency rather than the vital national requirement.

Over the past decades, power hubs and most of the development funds out of national / provincial budgets have been circulated / spent within the limited provincial / federal capital and selected places having direct bearings to personal reputation / comforts. This attitude, coupled with the media blitz, vested interests of non staged actors and administrative difficulty caused to the people of distant cities to approach the provincial capitals have the potential to intensify the sense of deprivation amongst the underprivileged populace of remote / less developed areas within each province. The existing state of deprivation can give further rise to the ethno-political and linguistic divide. The rapid population has only compounded the administrative and socio political affairs. Necessity of creation of the new provinces notwithstanding, it would have considerable economic concerns. The other school of thought considers that by improving the governance in existing administrative setups of divisions and districts, allocating sufficient development funds to immediately undertake major projects in deprived areas would do the trick.

Apropos the above mentioned facts, the question of having or not having new provinces, along with its constitutional, political, structural, socio-economic and national implications needs to be thoroughly and dispassionately. Nexus to above, carryout a detailed analysis for the viability of new provinces vis-a-vis existing system, while suggesting a far-sighted way forward.


In the recent years, ethnic and political problems have been on the increase in Pakistan. Amongst a host of factors, mal-governance and deteriorating economy situation are considered the major causes of the strife. Coupled with this, the role of religious parties and ethnic organizations has also come under severe criticism. The existing deteriorating conditions of the country and the state of deprivation amongst the masses, has further complicated the ethno-political and linguistic divide. The creation of new provinces would have considerable ethno-political concerns and will further aggravate the instability amongst the masses Government Institutions. Nexus to above, there is a need to carryout detailed viability for creation of new provinces on the basis of ethno-political structures of Pakistan.



1. Pakistan was created on the basis of two nation theory. The only bond which connected the people from various regions and classes/casts was the religion. Both the states opted to adopt the Government of India act 1935, which was parliamentary in nature. Since creation Pakistan faced many difficulties and amongst them, promulgation of constitution was foremost. It was very imp due to two main reasons, 1st to give direction to the political forces of all regions and 2nd to give equal and rightful representation to all ethnic groups. After approval of 1st constitution, federal system of Government was chosen for Pakistan, with max autonomy to provinces in mind. Over a period of time, we kept on switching between democratic and martial law regimes, and virtually no one political system has been able to flourish. Resultantly this gave the worst set back of history to Pakistan in 1973.

2. Provincial structuring of Pakistan in its present shape based on linguistic diversity (Punjabi, Baluchi, Sindhi and Pakhtuns) as the factor of territorial equation was probably not kept in view at the time of independence. Thus administrative units were contrived with ethnic units keeping intact. This fact was realized in earlier timeframe and a system of one unit was introduced. However, that too failed and the present structure came into being as described in constitution of 1973. The issue has regained prominence on renaming of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the reaction in its Hazara Division. It gave added impetus to the demand of a separate province in southern parts of Punjab due to prevailing political wrangling of various parties for their vested interests, resurfacing the demand for Bhawalpur and Seraiki provinces since the break-up of one unit in 1970. The demands may set in motion trend for other provinces in rest of the country for which many proposals are already being trumpeted. However, there is a requirement to deliberate upon these proposals on ethno political basis for an ultimate decision in the national interest.


3. To carryout in depth analysis for creation of new provinces on ethno political structural basis in Pakistan and proffer suitable way fwd for having more provinces.


4. Historical Perspective and Background – Part 1

5. Arguments Far & Against New Provinces – Part 2

6. Analysis and Important Conclusions – Part 3

7. Recommendations – Part 4



Background of the Issue

History of the issue under evaluation goes back to the time of creation of Pakistan when various princely states and territories formed part of Pakistan as separate entities within the new creation. The periodical changes hitherto in the status of these princely states and territories have given reasons to think for a possible change in the existing administrative structure / division of the country.

The administrative units of Pakistan as of today are[update] derived from the administrative units inherited from British India.

From independence in 1947 to 1971, Pakistan comprised two ‘wings’ separated by 1600 kilometers of Indian Territory. The eastern wing comprised the single province of East Bengal. The western wing was formed from three full provinces i.e then NWFP, West Punjab and Sind, one Chief Commissioner’s Province (Baluchistan), thirteen princely states and parts of Kashmir.

In 1948, the area around Karachi was separated from Sind Province to form the Federal Capital Territory. In 1950 name of West Punjab was changed to Punjab. The four princely states of southwest Pakistan formed the Baluchistan States Union in 1952.

The One Unit policy was enforced in 1955, whereby the provinces and princely states of the western wing were merged to form the new province of West Pakistan with Lahore as the provincial capital.

Simultaneously East Bengal was renamed as East Pakistan with Dhaka as the provincial capital.

In 1960 the federal capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad when it was completed, followed in 1961 by the merger of the Federal Capital Territory into West Pakistan. West Pakistan was dissolved in 1970 by President Yahya Khan and four new provinces were created.

East Pakistan became independent in December 1971 as the new country of Bangladesh.

In 1974 the last of the princely states (Hunza and Nagar) were finally abolished and their territory merged with the Gilgit Agency to form the Northern Areas and later as Gilgit Baltistan province. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was formed from parts of Hazara, districts of Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan in 1975.

The status of the Islamabad area was changed to a capital territory in 1981.

In 2010, the NWFP changed its name to KPK. This change of name regenerated the notion of creating more provinces in Pakistan on various factors and drivers.

The present day Pakistan’s administrative units [1] is as under:-:-


Administrative Unit


Area (Km²)

Population Density

(Per Km²)


Baluchistan Province





Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province





Punjab Province





Sindh Province





Islamabad Capital Territory





Federally Administered Tribal Areas





Azad Kashmir













The issue of the creation of new provinces has become an ardent debate; it has started with the KPK (Hazara) and Punjab (Saraiki and Bahawalpur) but may not begin or end thereafter. While supporting the creation of new provinces may appear an easy way out for the politicians, it is going to be a difficult task to actually carve them out. Once the genie is out it will not be possible to force it back into the bottle. Like creation of new districts, addition of provinces would become a political appeasement tool in a run up to each election. At the end of the day, country is likely to end up having a provincial map very close to an existing administrative entity called ‘Division’.Pakistan-New-Provinces.jpg

Political Structure of Pakistan

Federal Form of Government and Implications on Provinces. Pakistan is a federation by constitution 1973. The 1st and foremost feature of the federalism is the existence of two sets of constitution including national / state and regional or provincial. Each is free to function within its own defined field. Various features of the federal system, which are its essence and clearly indicate our limitations, are as under:-

It maintains a written constitution which establish the relationship between federations various elements.

Division of powers between federation and various entities is on regional / territorial basis and written in law. It does not have some specific formula and every country has made it as per its own requirements.

Federal system believes in de-centralized of powers.

Common features including the existence of independent judiciary.

It is an attempt in heterogeneous societies to promote coop and coordinated in the social, political, economy and administration fields as well as respect and accommodation of diversity for various constituent units.

Certain factors which facilitate the smooth function of federalism including:-

Units must share the sense of community.

There should be no sharp inequality in size, resources and population.

Equitable sharing of economy resources.

Geographical contiguity.

Democratic form of Government and greater decentralization.

Political Populous Support in Various Provinces for Different Political Parties. The passage of 18th amendment and the change in the name of NWFP to KPK has arose a sense of deprivation in the people of Hazara which resulted in the sudden increase in the pace of the movement for the demand of Hazara province for which more than a dozen people lost their lives in April 2010 . In the same vain the Nawab of Bahawalpur paced up his demand for a separate province the Saraiky province seekers want to make two districts of KPK and 19 districts of Southern Punjab to make their province. Will it be possible in the light of current party position in Punjab assembly to acquire two third votes for the division of the province? Moreover The government that already have the blood of dozen innocent people of Hazara on its hands can be perceived to allow it’s two districts to be taken by someone else? All this shows that our motherland is going towards a series of constitutional, political ethnic and financial crisis, which are anticipated as the adverse effects of the creation of new provinces in Pakistan. Meanwhile the master stroke of the chief minister of Punjab (his statement of bifurcating Sindh) has further heated this political debate and has exposed many faces believing more in regionalism than in nationalism. Following have to be considered:-

There will be a new debate of the division of revenues, new provincial consolidated funds should be created irrespective of the fact whether the newly created provinces are able to make their way or they will prove to be another liability on the federation.

Let us say that the government admits to the demands of the new provinces, what will be the result? More ethnic movements will arise and different ethnicities will ask for separate province on the bases of their ethnicity, some pressure groups will press hard for the creation of new provinces that will severely undermine the already divided sense of nation hood. The creation of new provinces on the bases of ethnicity will be another blow to the already in questioned ideology of Pakistan. Moreover many Nawabs of the states (that exceeded to Pakistan after its independence) will follow the footsteps of Nawab of Bahawalpur that will create another dilemma.

If the creation of new provinces will not result in the automatic improvement of the management, if the creation of more administrative units on ethnic lines is going to endanger the sense of nation hood, if more provinces cannot help in bridging the gulf between the ruler and the ruled and if the multiplication of the number of federating units is anticipated to create more constitutional problems that would require another 64 years to solve them then why this frenzy of the creation of new provinces in Pakistan has been created at the time when the land of pure is already in crises.

Punjab its Political Dynamics with ref to Creation of Sarikistan Province. Alone Punjab accounts for over more than 50% of the population of the country while Balochistan which is having around 50% of the country’s whole area, is having only 5% of the population. With the movement of Hazara province and 18th amendment there come up a sudden demand for Sareiki Province including two districts of KPK and 19 districts of Punjab. There are three major political parties having different views:-

PML (N). This party is not in favour of creation of provinces in Punjab, rather want to have broader consideration. Party wants to have more no of provinces on administration grounds and irrespective of the demands of people.

PML (Q). It is an imp actor in this scene. It is in favour of separate province in the southern part of Punjab to capitalize on its popularity for political reasons.

PPP. Again just to lower the popularity and Government of PML (N), they are in favor of creation of this province.

Other Political Parities. Many small political parties such as MQM, Jamat-e-Islami and JUI does not have considerable influence due to less no of seats in provincial assembly.

Change of Political Affiliations. Most of the MNAs keep on switching their political affiliations as per the popular sentiments. This is not for want of the betterment of people rather it is for self served future political benefits. This trend is more pronounced like once elections are nearing.



Proposals and Political Demands [2] 

There are many proposals for creation of more provinces in Pakistan. Whereas, each exponent has logic in support of the proposal, these require deliberation before taking a final decision in national interest. Besides many voices, most prominent are from Mr.Javaid Hashmi who is a renowned Seraiki politician in Multan, the largest city in the Seraiki belt. He has on previous occasions supported the creation of new provinces in order to improve governance quality and adm efficiency and had implied support for a Seraiki province. According to Hashmi, a province should be created which incl Multan and Bahawalpur, adding that in the future to solve problems Karachi, Lahore and Quetta could also be made into provinces [3] . The PML-N has approved in principle the formation of new provinces strictly on adm basis Summary of various proposals appeared in media is as fol [4] :-





Restoration of former Bahawalpur Province

Muhammad Ali Durrani, PML(Q)

Ijaz-ul-Haq (PML(Q)



Creation of Seraiki Province from Punjab

PML (Q) and PPP



Creation of Hazara Province from KPK

Hazara Province




Creating more provinces from Punjab alone on history / linguistic basis

Mr Ayaz Amir


Creating province from Sindh for Karachi and Hyderabad

MQM (Initial Stance)



Creating more provinces on administrative grounds

Mr Nawaz Sharif, PML(N)

Salim Saifullah, PML (LM)


Creating more provinces from all provinces


MNA Javed Hashmi, PML(N)



Case for new provinces is also based on the continuous neglect of the far flung areas by successive regimes and marginalization of people residing on peripheries of existing provinces in terms of economic development builds a strong case for creation of smaller units especially with the high population density in certain areas making the quality of service delivery by existing mechanisms poorer and poorer. In fact this panel feels that one major cause of ‘poor governance’ is failure to create new provinces. As such the following points also merit attention:-

Population Growth. The 180 million population with 60 million plus alone in Punjab demands creation of new provinces to develop the areas lagging behind current provincial headquarters / big cities in particular.

Spatial Disparities. It is critical that the new provinces are created to remove spatial disparities, develop infrastructure; set up schools, colleges, hospitals. The creation of new provinces will allow the structured development of areas hitherto fore in a state of utter neglect due to lack of time out their urgent needs.

Over Burdened Politicians / Bureaucrats. Paucity of time with elected representatives / bureaucrats to entertain issues confronting residents of peripheral areas. The creation of new provinces will speed up focused dev; dispel feelings of marginalization and deprivation by the people who have to wait for days in provincial capitals to get a hearing from the elected representatives and bureaucrats who are busy in the issues confronting mega cities like Karachi, Lahore and the unique law and order issues of Peshawar and Quetta.

Comparative Study [5] 

India. In India, on the other hand language was used as a basis of provincial divisions. As such, India reorganized and created more provinces on the basis of language. In Pakistan, the governments in power felt that language was not an acceptable basis or legitimate source of identity and the creation of new provinces were continuously opposed. The criteria for new provinces on the basis of language were felt to be a potential cause of political destabilization. As such demand/creation of language-based provinces was considered as taboo. Apart from their core communities, these provinces contained large ethnic minorities, which retained provincial aspirations of their own, e.g. Pakhtuns in Balochistan, Mohajirs (Urdu speaking migrants from India) in Sindh, Siraiki-speakers in south Punjab and Hindko-speakers in the Hazara division of NWFP. More over in Pakistan there is a requirement for a two-third majority in the two houses of parliament to create a new province, along with consent in the assembly of the provinces concerned. These requirements have made the creation of a new province extremely difficult. In contrast in India, a simple majority of the LokSabha is required while opinion of the state legislature has to be sought.

USA. In case of USA, there are 50 states and each state has its own constitution, however, the federation has its control through a federal presidential form of government with the Congress and the Senate.

Afghanistan. Afghanistan, our next door neighbour has 29 provinces for a population of about 28 million. The division of Afghanistan into provinces is based on ethnic and tribal affinities and these provinces are controlled by the ruler in Kabul historically. The ruler in Kabul always managed these provinces through the tribal hierarchy. Afghanistan has been subjected to revolutions, civil wars, insurgencies and invasions but the unity of Afghanistan remained intact due to large number of smaller provinces.

Other Examples. “While large unequal provinces are always prone to breed and fuel secessionist mind-sets, smaller provinces serve as a safety valve against such tendencies. Nigeria, facing religion-bases secessionist war in Biafra Region in 1960s solved this problem by forming smaller provinces. Most of the large and medium sized countries in today’s world have divided themselves into smaller provinces or states as “administrative units”. Examples are:-

China 34 provinces, India 28 states and seven union territories, Iran 30 provinces, Indonesia 33, Egypt 26, France 26, Germany 16, Nigeria 38, Philippines 80, Thailand 78, Turkey 81 and UK 114 counties.

Looking at the systems of other developed and developing countries, we find ourselves a unique example of federation with almost no parallel anywhere in the world. No country, roughly equal to Pakistan geographical or population size, has so few and such large provinces [6] .

In an unequal setup, no method of government will work. It is a system designed for paralysis which we are already experiencing.

Rationale / Necessity [7] for Having New Provinces

The neglect of the far flung areas and marginalization of people residing on periphery’s of existing provinces in terms of economic development form a major necessity resulting in demand for more provinces. Other reasons are:-

Exponential Growth. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. The exponential growth in population demands creation of new provinces to improve service delivery.

Neglect of Peripheral Areas. Neglect of many parts due to attention to provincial capitals and big cities resulted in poor governance and said neglect of the peripheral areas by successive Governments.

Removal of Disparities. Need to remove special disparities. Develop infrastructure; set up schools, colleges and hospitals. New Province creation likely to speed up focused development and dispels feeling of marginalization / deprivation.

Opportunities for less Privileged. Creation of more provinces is thought to provide more opportunities for the less privileged classes.

End of Dynasty based Politics. It may lead to ending dynasty-based politics in the country which on rise at the moment.

Ease of Access. On administrative grounds to facilitate poor masses to have access to line departments close to their localities.

Grass Roots Level Empowerment. Creating more provinces would empower people at grassroots level to facilitate the people at their doorsteps.

Creative use of Ethnic Diversities. Unnatural unity tends to strengthen sub-identities and have often weakened the commitment to Pakistani identity. Ethnic diversities, being inerasable components of the human genome, cannot be cured and hence must be endured. In fact, must be celebrated and managed creatively.

De-centralization of Power. De-centralization of power to the provinces is necessary. In a decentralized system, local representatives make local autonomous decisions towards achievement of its local goals aimed to culminate into national good.

Governance improvement. Creation of more provinces may lead to possible improvement in governance.

Enhancement of Unity of Nation. Splitting provinces into more compact, efficient and effective units has the benefit of reducing the importance of provinces, which interfere with the cohesion of the country as one nation.

Adm, Log and Cultural Harmony. Once the country will be divided into more compact smaller units, than it will have positive effs. So more provinces are likely to ensure the smooth administrative, logistic and cultural harmony.

Estb of the Writ of the State. Failure of the state to establish its writ in many parts of the country has created a situation where far-flung neglected populations are in danger of shifting their allegiances to the terrorists, extremists and criminals.

Greater Homogeneity. Creation of more provinces will afford greater homogeneity. This homogeneity will benefit the country in overall progress.

Reduction of Congestion in Big Cities. More provinces means more developed cities and all the population congestion towards Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta will be reduced.

Distribution of Resources. Distribution of provinces into more compact and smaller units, if coordinated and agreed will result into better distribution of resources.

Pakistani Nationalism. It will give rise to Pakistani nationalism rather than Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto or Balochi, if the division is not based on languages.

Filtration of Bad Politicians. It probably will allow the politician to seriously work for their people once they don’t have ‘big brother’ Punjab to blame for deprivation and problems.

Rationale / Necessity for Not Having New Provinces [8] 

There however are certain impediments which may hinder creation of more provinces. Details are as following:-

Stress on Pakistani Nationhood. Fear of the stress that they may exert on the untested foundations of Pakistani nationhood. People were killed in rioting leading up to a mere change of name from NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Rise to Ethnicity. May give further rise to ethnicity. Creation of more provinces on the basis of ethnicity exacerbates the feeling of isolation. This is a self-destructive tendency. Creating new provinces may affect Pakistan’s unity like it did to Yugoslavia.

Problem of Adm and Pol Realities. Ethnic aspirations cause problems to recognize administrative and political realities. Every ethnic aspiration does not justify a province. If the move to make new provinces catches roots, Pakistan would be de-novo decimated into several petty ethnic provinces.

Equality of Geography and Population. The degree of equality of geographical and population sizes across provinces may not be a balanced one giving rise to problems of its own.

Sindhi Nationalist Ideology. Sindhi nationalists strongly oppose division of Sindh.

Economy Difficulties. Raising funds locally would be difficult particularly under the current not so healthy state of Pakistan’s economy.

Size. There is no definition of “correct” size of a province or state.

Division of Punjab. Punjab plays a major part in Pakistan politics and its division may not be accepted by influential politicians.

Poor Institutions. Smaller provinces would have lesser human capital and civil society institutions and therefore might be susceptible to the problem of poorer institutions.

Inter Provincial Struggle. The division of larger provinces may cause inter provincial struggle / friction for resource control.

Balkanization. With uncontrolled increase in population growth, the country cannot be subjected to balkanization.

Division of Balochistan. Pakhtun province carved out of Balochistan until the more sensitive Baloch grievances are resolved would be detrimental to Pakistan’s unity.

However, the rationale for the creation of ‘new’ provinces carries more weight due to the fact that development of areas which in the last sixty four years have been unable to show any tangible socio-economic development, the new provinces will enable them to generate their own resources, make their own decisions to address the years of neglect and lack of focus on areas away from the provincial Capitals and the ‘big cities’.



Options and Analysis

Above discussion straight away lead us to various options for creation of more provinces or for that matter more administrative units, which are mentioned as under:-

Option-1. Declare the former administrative commensurate divisions as provinces. However, this would result in creation of over 30 provinces which in the present socio-economic and political circumstances is not viable option.


Creation of more than 30 provinces.

Creation of more minor administrative units.

Well defined and establish boundaries.

Non lingual and ethnic basis.


More no of administrative units.

More expenses.

Viability of few administrative units with reference to bearing their own burden will be questionable.

Distribution of resources amongst units will be difficult.

Option-2. Popular option can be to create more provinces on the basis of cultural, ethnic and linguistic lines. However, such creation would have a negative impact on national cohesion.


Societies will remain united as per their culture, ethnic and lingual lines.

No cultural or ethnic or lingual dichotomies.

Most political parties are expected to agree with that.


Will give rise to ethnicity instead of national cohesion.

Viability of few administrative units will be questionable.

More expensive option.

Boundary demarcation will be disputed.

Option-3. Another option of creating new provinces is base

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