After years of back-and-forth posturing, gesticulating, muchy-twirling and chest puffing – it’s official. Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province will officially be renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) signed the draft of the 18th Amendment Wednesday (dubbed “the best constitutional thing to happen since the 1973 consensus Constitution”).
For those unaware of the issue, Rahimullah Yusufzai does a great job of detailing it in The News this week. In “The Case for Pakhtunkhwa,” he wrote, “The debate on renaming [NWFP] is serious business because it concerns the identity of its people and their place in the federation of Pakistan. However, the direction it has taken is sometimes comical, and at best uninformed and politicized.”
The Awami National Party (ANP) have long campaigned for the change to Pakhtunkhwa, (in November 1997, the NWFP Assembly even passed a resolution in favor of the name), asserting that it reflects the Pashtun majority of the province. However, the opposition (specifically the PML-N) claimed the title “marginalized other ethnic groups in the province,” though every other province in Pakistan – Punjab, Balochistan, and Sindh – reflect a specific ethnic group. Go figure.
As parties entered into lengthy debates over a potential province name, some interesting options have come out of the woodwork – Neelab, Nuristan, Darul Islam, Afghania, and Abaseen, (a name used for the Indus River). At the end, renaming it Khyber (in reference to the Khyber Pass)-Pakhtunkhwa seemed to be a compromise both the PML-N and ANP could agree upon (although the PML-Q expressed reservations).
In his piece Yusufzai made one particular point that was interesting – “People with fertile imaginations and unconcerned that the issue was to provide identity to its majority Pakhtun population came up with still more bizarre names that don’t even deserve to be discussed.”
Since I was not privy to the “bizarre” names that failed to make the chopping block, my overactive imagination can only wonder out loud. Imaginary PML-N, take it away:
- Muchiekhwa or Muchiestan – Because everyone’s got a moustache. Even the ladies.
- Sharifs-are-your-pals-stan – Not so subtle way for PML-N to shore up voter support among Pathans.
- We-want-your-votes-but-Punjabis-actually-rule-stan – Um, yeah. No.
- RAW-istan – “Wait, what do you mean RAW isn’t the Taliban in disguise? Taliban doesn’t equal Pashtuns? Damn.”
- Nawaz-ia – Nawaz, the hair plugs called. They want their lack of subtlety back.