April 16, 2010


All change in Pakistan (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 4/15/10, Asia Times)

The move to change the name of restive North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa - meaning "Khyber side of the land of the Pakhtuns" - to reflect the majority ethnic Pashtun population of the province has stirred a violent backlash that adds another layer to the myriad problems Pakistan faces. [...]

The sub-nationalist Pashtun Awami National Party (ANP), which leads the coalition government in NWFP, in return for its support of the presidential changes insisted that NWFP's name be changed at the same time.

This has been a long-standing demand of the party as well as its predecessor, the banned National Awami Party, which was the initial flagbearer of a greater Pakhtoonistan - the name given to the region inhabited by Pashtuns since ancient time that straddles modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The area was designated as a future sovereign state by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (known as Frontier Gandhi and the grandfather of Asfandyar Wali Khan, the current leader of the ANP) in the late 1940s when British India was in the process of being partitioned. Instead, much of it was incorporated into Pakistan when the new country was established in 1947.

Pashtun nationalists say the historic homeland was first divided in 1893 by the Durand Line, a disputed and what they call an imaginary border between British India (now Pakistan) and Afghanistan. The line still serves as the de facto border.

Sub-nationalism? Priceless.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2010 5:28 AM
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