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Pakistani Senate approves province name change

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 16, IRNA -- Pakistani Senate Thursday approved with a majority vote renaming of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), despite violent protest against the name change which killed at least 10 people and injured nearly 100 more.

Change name of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as ‘Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa’ (Khyber side of the land of the Pashtoons) was part of key amendments in the constitution which will also strip the president of his sweeping powers.

The renaming of the province has been a long-standing demand of the ethnic Pashtoons who dominate the NWFP.

The new name was opposed by ethnic Hindku speaking people in Hazara area of the NWFP and the protest turned violent with attacks on police stations and vehicles.

Death toll from the week-long violence at Abbotabad, the center of Hazara, reached to 10, according to the organizers.

The situation returned to normalcy on Thursday after the representatives from the NWFP government met protestors and asked them to suspend protest.

According to population census in 1982, there are 2.43 per cent ethnic Hindku speaking people in the country and 13.15 per cent Pashtoons.

There are over 95 per cent Hindku speaking people in Abbotabad and Mansehra, two main cities in Hazara.

The 100-member Senate approved name change with 80 votes while only 12 opposed the renaming.

Several members abstained.

A total of 67 votes were required for the passage of the amendment as a two-third majority is required for amendments in the constitutions.

Some senators from the opposition Muslim League-Q party, backed by former President Pervez Musharraf, did not support renaming of NWFP.

The National Assembly, Lower House of the Parliament, has already passed the amendments with majority vote and after the passage by the Senate, the amendments will be signed the President to become part of the 1973’s constitutions.

The amendments will approve other measures to transfer powers from the office of the president to the prime minister.

The amendments include taking away the president's power to dismiss an elected government and appoint military chiefs.

Earlier the constitution conferred vast powers on the president, including the power to appoint services chiefs, the head of the election commission and the head of the public service commission.

The president also had the power to dismiss all or any of the central or provincial governments and parliaments.

The amendment declared as illegal all the measures taken by Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1999 after dismissing the elected government of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.


End News / IRNA / News Code 1057917

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