By Khalid Pervaiz
The news of the bifurcation of Chitral into two districts is doing the round in the mainstream media these days. In a press conference in Peshawar the other day, PTI office-bearers including Fozia Bibi MP, validated the news report that Chairman Imran Khan will soon visit Chitral and announce the bifurcation in an address to a public gathering at Booni. The news has sent a wave of jubilation across the length and breadth of upper Chitral as it has been a long-cherished demand of the people of subdivision Mastuj. It will be a red-letter day for the residents of upper Chitral and it will pave the way for them towards socio-economic development.
Chitral is the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in terms of territory. The road infrastructure in the district is in a shambles and the rough terrain makes it administratively inconvenient to run the affairs under the domain of a sole district administration. The people living in the periphery find it hard to attend to their litigations in the district courts and other engagements with the government higher-ups sitting in the district headquarter. Particularly, the residents of Broghil and Yarkhun Lasht valley travel hundreds of miles before reaching the district headquarters in Chitral and it takes them several days to get back home. The cost of the journey and lodging in hotel in town is an additional burden on the purse of these cash strapped rustic people.
KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had shrugged off the demand when put before him during his visit to Booni in the aftermath of the devastating floods in 2015. He vehemently contended that it was a futile exercise to create a new district as it will only benefit the bureaucracy as office holders. Probably at that time he could not have adequately comprehended the gravity of the situation faced by the people living in the remote corners of the district having constricted access with the district headquarters lying hundreds of miles away from them. Had he travelled by jeep via the tortuous and bumpy road from Chitral town to the distant Boroghol valley, he would certainly have explored the precarious travel conditions confronting the commuters. Sagaciously enough, the PTI government at long last perceived the grievous situation and acceded to the demand of the people of Chitral.
The bifurcation will further increase the political clout of the PTI in upper Chitral with maximum political leverage in terms of increased vote bank in the area. The decision has gone down well with people from all age group. The people of Chitral are famous for remembering their benefactors. History bears witness to the fact they still remember ZA Bhutto for initiating the mega project of Lowari Tunnel which was later winded up by Gen Zia ul Haq. The cult of Bhuttoism is still alive in Chitral and his party holds sway by occupying two provincial assembly seats. The resumption of construction work on the Lowari tunnel by Gen Pervez Musharraf made him an iconic figure for the people of Chitral. Today Musharraf is a household name in Chitral. The people of Chitral will open their hearts and arms for IK as well if he materializes the long cherished dream of the people of Chitral by the bifurcation of the district into two.
By Khalid Pervaiz