“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Said Marin Luther King Jr.
Recently, due to rise of prices of flour in Punjab, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, in violation of Article 151 3(a) banned flour supply to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which was left with 5 days’ supply of it as per the vendors; which was considered an insult by those lightening peoples’ houses and gas stoves throughout Pakistan.
Nationalist leaders including Awami National Party’s Provincial President Aimal Wali criticized the act saying “if Punjab has a superior right over flour, we have it over Electricity, Gas, water and Tobacco et cetera” and some leaders even called for cutting off Electricity supply to Punjab as a reply to the hostile gesture by the biggest province of Pakistan.
Little does the Chief Minister know that our country is formed of four autonomous states with a weak central government, each having the foremost right over their natural resources and produce. If an unhealthy environment is created of banning produce due to an increase in price or local shortage, every province will be able to sustain itself by cutting out supplies to Punjab except for Punjab itself.
The division of natural resources and produce of provinces have been clearly provided by the Constitution of Pakistan, giving each priority over what belongs to them. Recent developments reveal the environment of prejudice against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the Federal and Punjab government. Big provinces are prioritized over small, even when the resource or product is of the small, which has left a bad taste of discrimination and exploitation in the mass’ provinces.
The province faces an extreme shortage of gas even though Article 58 of the constitution clearly gives priority and precedence to the province if the well-head of natural gas is situated there. Gas load-shedding was declared illegal by Peshawar High Court twice, First through 2011 PLD 57 Peshawar High Court, second through 2016 PLD 32 Peshawar High Court. In both cases, the court gave directions to the federal government to comply with the constitution in letter and spirit, but the compliance was short term.
Feeling aggrieved and exploited, a citizen of Peshawar, filed another writ petition in the Peshawar High Court against non-availability of gas in the province in violation of the constitution and against the aforementioned judgments of the Court. After notice of the case was received by the government, gas was restored in many areas of Peshawar, however, the case is still pending adjudication.
Despite bearing with the consequences of these dams in shape i.e. floods hitting areas around it, leaving everything to ruins. Whereas the areas are pollution hit as well affected due to the use of heavy machinery. Despite accommodating and bearing with the risks, locals are made to opt for alternatives for electricity and natural gas.
The feeling of deprivation and exploitation have started to emerge in the public in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the recent acts and statements of Chief Minister of Punjab due to a shortage of flour. Such sentiments threaten the brotherhood existing between the provinces.
Meeting of the Council of Common Interest shall be convened by the Prime Minister under Article 154 (3) at the earliest to solve the rising dispute by nipping it in the bud by providing every province their share in accordance with the constitution and to suppress any illegal biased events in the future which can prove unfortunate and fatal for the Federation. We can only hope it does not become aggravate to become the case of Bangladesh.
By: Nouman Muhib Kakakhel
The writer is a law student based in Peshawar. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org