Of late, the creation of a Seraiki province has been the favourite topic of President Zardari and PM Gilani. A number of other political parties are also in favour of the creation of new provinces; however, some are of the view that this division should not take place on the linguistic or ethnic basis. The PPP has done some work on the proposed Seraiki province and made it public recently when a map – which comprises as many as 20 districts including 18 from Punjab and two from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – was published in a national daily. The remaining Punjab stands reduced to a few districts of Majha (central districts) and Potohar regions. What I don’t understand is: why is the PPP adamant to use the word Seraiki? It is one of as many as 31 dialects of Punjabi and, till 1981, it was categorised as western Punjabi. It was after the 1981 census that Seraiki, Potohari and Hindko got the status of separate languages. Seraiki used to be called Multani before that.
If the PPP government wants to make a separate province on the linguistic basis then it needs to include only those areas where Seraiki or its sub-dialects like Riasiti, Multani and Derawali are spoken. Further, the Siro area of Sindh has to be included in the proposed province to make it a pure Seraiki province. But its proposed map includes those areas too which do not share anything linguistically with the Seraiki belt. There seems no reason to include districts like Sargodha, Khushab, Jhang and Mianwali in the proposed province, as in these areas Shahpuri dialect is spoken which has nothing to do with Seraiki. Certain parts of Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalnagar districts can become part of Seraiki province as the majority in those areas speak Riasiti and Derawali. The areas like T T Singh, Sahiwal and Jhang are also shown in the map. These are the areas where Jhangochi or Janngli dialect is spoken. The great literary works of Punjabi language like Heer Ranja and Mirza Sahiba has been written in this dialect. It is also spoken in the ‘Bar’ areas of Punjab – Sandal Bar, Kirana Bar, Neeli Bar, Ganji Bar and also in areas from Khaniwal to Jhang including Faisalabad and Chiniot.
The country certainly needs new provinces for good governance but the division should be on administrative basis, without prejudice to any province, ethnic group or political party. Moreover, apart from the proposed Seraiki province, formation of other provinces should also be taken into consideration.
S SAJJAD Q ASHRAF,
Haripur, May 2.