JHANG: A majority of the people belonging to Chiniot district are unwilling to be a part of the proposed new Jhang division.

The opinion leaders representing different walks of life in an informal discussion with Dawn expressed their reluctance to be a part of the new proposed division. They don’t want to be detached from Faisalabad, which is far more developed and also situated at a small distance compared to Jhang.

All the members of national and provincial assembly belonging to Jhang district, accompanied by a couple of MPAs from Chiniot, met the Punjab chief minister [the other day] with a requisition demanding Jhang to be made a civil division, comprising Jhang, Chiniot and Bhakkar districts.

The CM sought a feasibility report from the Faisalabad commissioner who tasked the Jhang deputy commissioner with preparing the report. Jhang DC Mr. Tahir Wattoo after taking the historical, administrative and cultural background [of Jhang], in context of similarities and affinities with the other two districts, strongly recommended the creation of the new division in his detailed report.

Later, the two Chiniot legislators changed their stance on public pressure, making an amendment that they supported the move to the extent of creation of Jhang division, but that did not support the Chiniot district to be a part of it.

Jhang is one of the oldest districts of Punjab, created by the British in 1849, with the first batch of districts carved out under the new administrative system.

Jhang district at the time of its creation, comprised vast areas. Its eastern boundary was common with the Sheikhupura district, the Ravi separated it from Multan district and Montgomery (Sahiwal) in the south, while its northern boundary extended up to Kirana bar in the present-day Sargodha district. The entire Faisalabad district [currently] was a part of Jhang district, till the creation of new district of Lyallpur in 1904. Almost half of Kabirwala tehsil in the north of the Ravi in Khanewal district and some parts of Sillanwali tehsil and Sargodha up to Kirana Hills in Sargodha district were also a part of Jhang district. In this background, Jhang should have been elevated to the status of division long ago, said Mr. Sher Bahadari Noul, president of ‘Jhang division banao movement.’

He said the aversion [on the part of people of Chiniot] to be a part of Jhang division was against historical facts. Chiniot has been a tehsil of Jhang district for 160 years. The people of two districts are tied with very strong historical, cultural, linguistic and dialectical bonds. They have overwhelmingly more commonalities among them than the people of Faisalabad, a vast majority of whom have migrated from various districts of East Punjab and speak a different dialect of Punjabi. Their customs and cultural traits are also different from those of the people of Jhang and Chiniot.

As far as the distance factor is concerned, many areas of Chiniot district, such as Bhowana and Brana tehsils and some parts of Lalian tehsil are much closer to Jhang than Faisalabad. Jhang is a natural choice of becoming the divisional headquarters of Chiniot district, he said.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2019