Hazara people demand separate province in Pakistan
Last Updated: Sunday, May 02, 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 02, 2010, 20:46


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