Provincial Chief of the Awami National Party Senator Afrasiab Khatak has
rejected the proposal of holding referendum on the renaming of NWFP as
Pukhtoonkhwa, and vowed that the province would be renamed as popular demand of
the people.

Addressing a press conference here at Peshawar Press Club, provincial President
of ANP Afrasiab Khattak expressed surprise over the demand of Pakistan Muslim
League (N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, asking him to first hold referendum on
renaming of Punjab as the name Punjab was not acceptable to most of the people
in the Seraiki belt.

He said that ANP had raised the issue of provincial autonomy, and rights of
Pashtuns and renaming of the Frontier province as Pukhtoonkhwa to give
identification to the people of the province at central level.

Senator Khatak said, it had been decided that renaming of the province along
with other issues would be discussed only in constitutional committee, but the
PML-N had launched a media blitz against the "Pakhtunkhwa", which was quite
surprising. He said the constitutional committee was trying to evolve a
consensus on renaming the province.

"The matter should be left to the constitutional committee of the
Parliament," he said.

He said that the government had finalised the prolonged issue, but the PML-N was
creating hurdles in it. Afrasiab Khattak further said the incumbent democratic
government would never allow anyone to interfere with the provincial matters.

He said that that the people of the province wanted a separate identity as
enjoyed by other provinces as the present name was given by the British Raj. He
alleged that certain quarters were trying to create controversy over the name of
Pukhtoonkhwa. The attitude of such elements was sheer injustice and anti-Pukhtun,
he added.

The ANP leader said that both President Asif Ali Zardari and Premier Yousuf Raza
Gilani were using the nomenclature of Pukhtoonkhwa for the province, which 
meant that the political leaderships agreed upon the renaming of the province.

Replying to a query, he suggested that they could think about the name of
Afghania for the Frontier province, but unfortunately all such names, which
demonstrated the identity of Pushtuns, were not acceptable to the PML-N. He said
that a constitutional committee had been formed under the supervision of the
Federal government in which Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel was representing the
province. However, he said that the matters of this committee were completely

Showing flexibility over the renaming, however the ANP provincial chief said
that instead of "Pakhtunkhwa", Afghania would be acceptable to the ANP as a new
name for province if the constitutional committee of the Parliament agreed to
it. He said the opponents of the "Pakhtunkhwa should take the issue seriously
because it was a matter of the identity of a nation having a history spanned
over thousands of years. He said the identity was of paramount importance for
any nation.

"Nobody showed any apprehension over renaming the Nothern Areas as Gilgit
Baltistan, then why on Pakhtunkhwa", he said adding they were not afraid of
referendum on renaming the province but this demand was altogether

Meanwhile, Provincial Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain said
there was no need to hold referendum for renaming the NWFP as Pakhtunkhawa as
two speakers of provincial assemblies have announced their rulings in this

Commenting on the statement of PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif urging referendum
for renaming the province, he said the ANP would never accept referendum on the

The provincial assembly had passed unanimous resolution twice on renaming the
province. The PML-N did not oppose the unanimous resolution at that time, he
recalled. Was there any referendum for renaming the Punjab, Balochistan and
Sindh, he said, adding referendum should also be held for allowing third time

Castigating Nawaz, he said it is incomprehensible why Nawaz has changed his
stance so rapidly. He urged both the PPP and the PML-N to include name changing
in the constitutional package. He urged Nawaz not to confine himself in the

“Help Pakhtuns to secure their rights. Nawaz should avoid creating uncalled for
controversies. During his premiership, Nawaz had agreed to change the name of
the NWFP into Pakhtunkhawa,” he said.

The ANP would continue calling the province as Pakhtunkhawa, he said, adding
nobody should dare snatching the rights of Pakhtuns. “We should not waste our
time in bickering on trivial issues. We should hold negotiations to take the
country forward and strengthen democratic institutions,” he added.