PTI, PML-Q decision to increase administrative areas draws flak

Now that a caretaker setup has taken the reins in Punjab, the decision of the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) coalition to increase the province’s administrative divisions has come under fire

For the past decade, Punjab’s administrative regions consisted of 9 divisions, 36 districts, and 36 tehsils; however, the former chief minister (CM) Chaudhary Pervez Elahi led provincial government created 2 new divisions, 6 new districts, and 12 new tehsils

It is pertinent to mention that both the new divisions have ties to the PML-Q and PTI, as the newly created Gujrat Division, is home for former CM Elahi, and the newly created Mianwali Division, is home for the PTI’s Chairman, Imran Khan

“While it is the government’s mandate to increase the number of divisions, districts, and tehsils on account of population at any time but since the decision came so close to a general election, there is no doubt it is political,” said former chief secretary (CS) of Punjab, Jawad Rafique Malik

“It is apparent that the former government chose to focus its attention on the divisional districts and tehsils where it was expecting to gain seats in the upcoming election

” The civil servant was of the view that even if the decision was taken based on merit to improve administration it could have been taken earlier but now it would be hard to shake off the political bias

Whereas, the current CS of Punjab, Zahid Akhtar Zaman, opined that he had published notices for creation of new divisions, districts, and tehsils on the direction of the former CM and there was little point in using the decision for political point scoring

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) Information Secretary for Punjab, Uzma Zahid Bukhari, disagrees

“When Pervez Elahi realised that their party was weak and would not be able to perform in the elections, they started gerrymandering

They concentrated on Gujrat, Chakwal, and Attock so that they had a chance of winning,” she explained

Bukhari further said that the PML-N was not opposed to increase in divisions, districts, and tehsils but the process had to be free of political bias

“Even the PML-N established a division and 2 districts but we did our homework

Our process was not arbitrary,” remarked the PML-N leader

However, former provincial minister, Mian Aslam Iqbal of the PTI, said that if the PML-N’s process was not arbitrary then how had Raiwind, considered as the Sharif’s household, become a tehsil

“It is incorrect to refer to our decision as political because we addressed the needs of the people,” said Iqbal

In reply, Hassan Murtaza, Parliamentary Leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said that the decision was not meant to address the needs of the people but rather to increase the support of the former CM Elahi led faction of the PML-Q

On the other hand, Muhammad Khan Bhatti, who was the principal secretary to former CM Elahi, said that allegations of political bias were false

“By the creation of the Gujrat Division, the PML-Q will develop historical regions like Mandi Bahauddin and Hafizabad

It is the PML-Q receiving credit for development which irks our opponents

So they can call it a political decision or whatever else they want but we only made the decision for the benefit of the people,” claimed Bhatti while talking to The Express Tribune

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2023

Date:05-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link