Hazara people demand separate province in Pakistan

Last Updated: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 20:46

Peshawar: Life in the Hazara division of
northwest Pakistan was today affected by a strike called by a
group demanding the creation of a separate province in the
region.

The movement for a separate Hazara province gained
ground last months after the passage by parliament of landmark
constitutional reforms package that renamed the North West
Frontier Province as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa.

The people of Hazara, who claimed they had long been
ignored by the authorities, felt further alienated by the new
name for the region and demanded the creation of a new
province.

The strike, which affected business activities and
transport services, was called by the Tehrik-e-Soba Hazara
(Movement for the province of Hazara).

The strike completely disrupted life in Abbotabad
district, the main town of Hazara division, while its impact
was partial in Haripur, Mansehra, Batagram and Kohistan
districts.

Traders and transporters in Abbotabad district
backed the strike. The Karakoram Highway was shut from
Abbottabad to Kohistan due to blockades put up by protestors.

Authorities beefed up security arrangements to
prevent untoward incidents during the strike. Similar protests
last month had turned violent and several persons were killed
when police opened fire to disperse demonstrators.

The Awami National Party, which rules
Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province, made a fresh offer for talks
with leaders in Hazara division in an effort to end the strife
in the region.

ANP leader Malik Muhammad Naveed said he had
approached the leadership of Tehrik-e-Soba Hazara on the
directive of Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and a
meeting between the government and the leaders was expected to
be held soon.

The provincial government has warned leaders of the
Tehrik-e-Soba Hazara that they would be responsible for any
negative consequences if they did not pursue a peaceful path.

Government spokesman and provincial Information
Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said, "We still stand by our
offer for unconditional talks with the leaders of Hazara
division."

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 20:46

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