Pushtuns aren’t stateless

| December 16, 2016 | 0 Comments

Re: “Strong stateless minorities” Oct.-Dec. 2016

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is a Pushtun. (Photo: Patrick Tsui/FCO)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is a Pushtun. (Photo: Patrick Tsui/FCO)

The basic criteria to determine stateless nations are that they do not have a sovereign state of their own, do not form a majority in any sovereign state and are part of one or more autonomist or secessionist movements. None of this is true for the Pushtuns living in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Instead of relying on data provided by James Minahan’s encyclopedia, the writer could have researched the facts, such as who has ruled Afghanistan for the last many decades? It has always been a Pushtun, as is the current president, Ashraf Ghani.
Pushtuns constitute about 45 per cent of the Afghan population and the rest are smaller ethnic groups. Pushtuns are clearly the majority in Afghanistan — they are the ethnic group with the highest percentage of population in the state.
Pakistan is a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic society that has a rich cultural mix. The population is made up of different ethnic groups including Pushtuns, Punjabis, Saraikis, Sindhis, Baloch, Urdu-speakers, Brahvis, Kashmiris, Hazaras and dozens of smaller ethnic groups.
Another gross misstatement of fact is that “Pakistan resisted being a federal state,” as asserted in the article. The fact is that Pakistan is a federal state having four provinces and, according to its constitution of 1973, all the federating units have sufficient autonomy to run their own affairs. The Pushtuns are scattered all over the country; however, they form a majority in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP.) There are other ethnic and linguistic groups in the province, but in terms of the majority, the chief minister or the governor of the province has always been a Pushto-speaking person.
The claim that most of the country’s Pushto-speaking region remained out of Islamabad’s control in the 1950s and 1960s is ridiculous. The people of the KP and Baluchistan voted overwhelmingly in favour of Pakistan at the time of partition and since then, there has never been any serious secessionist demand or movement. The claim that a separate Pushtun state is a demand or de-facto reality is not heard of by anybody within Pakistan. Even the international media, which remained engaged in the region for the last three decades, never noticed or came across the  movement noted by the writer.

Nadeem Haider Kiani
Press counsellor
High Commission for Pakistan

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Category: Diplomatica

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