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Balochistan's population criterion alone may not be appropriate for creating new districts, say analysts

ANI | Updated: Jul 26, 2021 21:18 IST

Balochistan [Pakistan], July 26 (ANI): Some Pakistani citizens, as well as media analysts, feel that the Balochistan government's decision to create a new district Chaman and a new division, Loralai has clear "political undertones" and this may not be in the best interest of the people.
Adnan Aamir, writing in The News International said that the population criterion alone may not be appropriate for creating new districts.
The decision will take the number of districts in Balochistan to 34 and the divisions 8. The Jam Kamal government of Balochistan based on the recommendation of a committee bifurcated Qila Abdullah into districts and has carved out Chaman as a new district. The government has also divided the Zhob division into two, thereby making Loralai a separate division, reported The News International.
While some vested interests are supporting the formation of new districts, this may not be in the best interest of the province. To put it into perspective, Punjab has 36 districts and nine divisions for its 110 million population and Balochistan has 34 districts and eight divisions for its 12 million people.
This means that the administrative expenses of running districts and divisions of Balochistan and Punjab are almost the same while the population of the latter is ten times as large. This means that the administering districts in Balochistan are ten times as expensive in terms of the population they serve as those in Punjab. The Balochistan government should act rationally stop making new districts, advised Aamir.
Ahmed Baksh Lehri, a bureaucrat from Balochistan said, "Balochistan's administrative divisions are way more than what the impoverished province can afford."
Sher Ahmed, 32, a resident of Quetta, said, "Creation of new districts will do no good. It will only increase the non-development expenditure of the province."

As per Aamir, the decision was taken under the pressure of Awami National Party (ANP) members who are the allies of Chief Minister Jam Kamal.
A provincial government official told Aamir in confidence that the decision was taken to please the ANP. "The Balochistan Awami Party of Chief Minister Jam Kamal lacks the strength in the provincial assembly required to sustain the government. That is why it often succumbs to pressure from its allies," the official said.
The newly formed district will require the recruitment of new staff - from clerks to deputy commissioner. Apart from their salaries, the government will need to allocate funds for their accommodation, travel and fringe benefits.
Likewise, a new commissionerate will be established in Loralai, resulting in additional expenses. There is no obvious benefit, however, to the increased expenditure apart from some political mileage, reported The News International.
"Some people are under the false impression that the creation of new administrative units will result in the creation of more jobs, which is not true," said Ahmed.
He said if residents of Qila Abdullah had a quota of 10 government jobs, they will continue to have the same quota even as they live in two new districts. "Creation of new districts in itself does not bring any tangle benefits to the citizens," he concluded.
Another argument used to justify the creation of new districts is Balochistan's enormous landmass. The argument goes that that since the area of the districts is huge, the population is not an appropriate sole criterion in this regard, says Aamir.
The need of the hour is to rationalise the administrative divisions. This means reversing the creation of certain districts and redrawing the boundaries of some others, advised Aamir. (ANI)