For so many decades Pakhtun politics has been made to revolve around two issues namely Kalabagh Dam and the renaming of NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakhtuns now need to understand that a progressive future for the NWFP does not depend upon its name or on whether the Kalabagh Dam is constructed or not. Moreover, NWFP does not become Pakhtunkhwa simply because some people begin to call it Pakhtunkhwa without bringing about a constitutional amendment. Therefore, that amendment must be brought about by the present rulers of NWFP or they should admit they cannot do this and move on to real and substantive matters that affect the daily lives of the poor and neglected Pakhtuns.
Fooling the Pakhtuns anymore on this aspect will be futile and counterproductive. I too would like to have NWFP renamed to the entire satisfaction of the people of NWFP but more than that I would like to see NWFP moving towards industrialisation, agricultural development, quality education, modern technological development, a huge forward surge in the quality of life in an environment of absolute peace and tranquility so that she (NWFP) becomes a land of opportunities for the Pakhtuns. If this is made to happen it will save the Pakhtun from going to big cities elsewhere in the country and the Middle East digging earth for other people’s development while NWFP continues in its standstill situation as far as progress is concerned.
It is time for the Pakhtuns to be given opportunities to become something other than a soldier, a policeman or an ordinary security guard. Calling NWFP by the name Pakhtunkhwa without a constitutional amendment and beating the drum of Kalabagh Dam will not give the Pakhtuns education, health facilities, peace, a home and some bread to eat. The Pakhtuns now need to reorient their political thoughts and think of electing for themselves, on the next opportunity, a political leadership that is modern, progressive and dynamic.
Over the years the Pakhtuns have strived to educate themselves to whatever level they could individually afford and from wherever they could. Many of these Pakhtuns are spread all over the world as successful people. Among the ranks of the Pakhtuns there are now eminent professors, doctors, engineers, generals, air marshals, businessmen, industrialists, researchers and poets. However, if there is a field where the Pakhtuns fall very short by universally recognized standards it is the all important field of politics. The standard of politics is what will always determine the progressive trends of any province, country or region. The best of educationists, scholars, engineers, businessmen, industrialists and doctors become frustrated and their abilities go in vain when the political leaders are so inept that the policies that they formulate have no substance or practicality. This is the predicament of the Pakhtun; excellent people but because of poor political leadership there are no opportunities to excel. The Pakhtuns have failed to find a progressive political leadership at all levels, especially at the top. Now, if the Pakhtuns want a progressive future and they want to move with the times they will have to reorient their politics and shun retrogressive political elements.
It is time for the masters of Pakistan’s political destiny and that of the NWFP to realize that too much water has flown under the bridge at Attock and the Pakhtun youth is getting restless by the day. Speeches about developing NWFP must now be converted into action. Speeches and promises mean nothing for the common Pakhtun whose frustration levels are rising by the day; something that needs to be arrested. It is illogical to say that first of all absolute peace will have to be restored and only then development of NWFP will happen. Yes, there will be difficulties but development can be put into motion right now. To have hodgepodge pull-apart coalitions and ineffective governors is not the way to govern a province like NWFP which has been torn apart by militancy and the resultant military operations. It is certainly past the high water mark for the Pakhtuns to do some hard thinking and reorient their political preferences so as to elect a progressive leadership in the coming future. It is also time for the educated Pakhtuns and the Pakhtun youth to step forward and play their political role.
As far as my memory goes NWFP has not had a Chief Minister for a long time that has not been under the shadows of someone or the other who held his strings. What good is a Chief Minister who is on a leash because he has no support of his own to govern independently? All this has to change if NWFP has to rise and be a productive federating unit of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and for such a change the Pakhtuns have to reorient themselves politically so as to elect a progressive and competent political leadership in future.
In the present dispensation there is a dire need to give the NWFP more and very effective ministries in the federal cabinet so that these ministers can then help uplifting the bleeding NWFP from the ruins. This will be an effective measure, one amongst many more, to counter the menace of the lawlessness and insurgency that NWFP presently suffers.