PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has directed the provincial chief secretary and two other senior officials to respond to a petition, which sought its directives for the government to bifurcate Malakand division insisting that administratively, it is difficult to control the region due to vast area and large population.
A bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Justice Syed M Attique Shah issued the order after preliminary hearing into the petition jointly filed by two residents of Lower Dir requesting the court to ask the provincial government and other respondents to make a new division out of Malakand and declare it Dir or Panjkora.
The bench directed the chief secretary, senior member board of revenue (SMBR) and secretary of the establishment department to respond to the petition putting forward their viewpoint on the plea of the petitioners.
The respondents in the petition are the provincial government through its chief secretary, chief minister, secretary of the establishment department, SMBR, provincial finance secretary, and Election Commission of Pakistan through its provincial member.
Two Lower Dir residents called for creation of new division
The petitioners, including Prof Wali Rahman and Rahim Shah, have insisted that a division was an administrative unit in the country and had a higher status in hierarchy than a district but lower than a province.
Their counsel, Malik Mohammad Ajmal, said that currently, the province had seven divisions with Malakand being the largest for having nine districts, including Upper and Lower Chitral, Upper and Lower Dir, Malakand, Swat, Buner, Shangla and Bajaur.
He contended that it was the right time to bifurcate Malakand division for effective administration, especially after the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with KP and the subsequent inclusion of Bajaur tribal district in Malakand division.
The lawyer said that the population of Malakand division was 9.605 million and it was spread over an area of 32,007 square kilometres.
He said that the Dir Qaumi Jirga, a representative body of the area, also recently demanded the establishment of Dir/Panjkora division along with the setting up of the Dir Development Authority, Dir Tourism Authority, Dir Motorway, and an engineering university.
The counsel said that there was legally no bar on the creation of a new division by bifurcating an existing one.
He said that administratively, it was not possible for the commissioner and the deputy inspector general and regional police officer to control Malakand division or even visit its far-flung areas.
The lawyer contended that it was the responsibility of the chief minister as the head of the provincial government to work for the development of the people and it would be in the interest of the residents to bifurcate Malakand division.
He said some divisional level officers of different departments were given offices in Timergara, the headquarters of Lower Dir district, except those of the commissioner, DIG and RPO.
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2022