CHITRAL: Experts believe Chitral district’s bifurcation as announced by the chief minister lately is not possible before the next general elections as the Election Commission of Pakistan has banned changes to the revenue limits of districts across the country.
Addressing a public meeting in Polo Ground here on Nov 8, CM Pervez Khattak had announced the creation of Upper Chitral district with Booni area as its headquarters through the administrative bifurcation of the mountainous Chitral district.
Senior high court lawyer Alam Zaib said the ECP had announced the ‘freezing’ of the revenue limits of all districts across the country on Dec 22 and thus, rendering the creation of Upper Chitral district impossible.
Experts say CM’s announcement on Upper Chitral not implementable due to ECP ban on changes to districts revenue limits.
He said under the ECP announcement, the administrative units in the country from the village council to the district levels would stand as they’re on and before Dec 22, 2017, until the holding of the next general elections.
The lawyer also said the provincial government had yet not notified the creation of Upper Chitral district.
He said creating another district in Chitral would be a gross violation of the ECP ban, which was decided on Dec 22 during a meeting attended by the chief secretaries of all four provinces.
Mr Zaib said even the government’s notification of Upper Chitral would evade the ban without the demarcation of the limits of the current Chitral district for its bifurcation.
He said the notification of two revenue tehsils, including Drosh and Mulkhow, would also remain ineffective as the demarcation had yet to be made.
“Until Dec 22, 2017, Chitral has just two tehsils i.e. Chitral and Mastuj. However, their number will increase to four in case of the creation of a new district and thus, necessitating changes to the limits, which will be a violation of the ECP ban,” he said.
On Dec 28, the ECP sent separate letters to the provincial chief secretaries reiterating that the limits of the revenue units were ‘frozen’ on Dec 22 and would remain so until the completion of delimitation process.
It also said Article 220 of the Constitution had been invoked under which it would be the duty of executive authorities in the centre and provinces to help the ECP and election commissioners do their duties.
A source in Chitral’s district administration said under the ECP’s directive, the creation of a new district at the current stage was not possible as it would require the changing of the limits of the revenue units.
Jamaat-i-Islami candidate for the Chitral National Assembly seat Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali also opposed the ‘politically-motivated’ announcement of Chitral’s bifurcation.
“They (PTI government) have no finances to create this new district and ironically, they did no homework for it. It’s purely a politically-motivated announcement by the chief minister,” he said.
Mr Chitrali said the creation of new administrative units wasn’t allowed after the ECP banned changes to the revenue limits of districts across the country.
He said the PTI government had badly failed to deliver in Chitral during the last four and a half years.
The JI leader said 21,000 people of Upper Chitral needed electric supply more than a district as they’d been living without electricity for the last three years after the destruction of the Reshun hydropower station by the flash floods.
He criticised the PTI government for not making alternative arrangements for electric supply.
Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2017