DERA GHAZI KHAN: There is a need for establishing new administrative units based on the set criteria for better governance.

An assurance of Taunsa upgrade by former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan during his visit to the flood-affected tehsil has been welcomed by dwellers of the area.

It is, however, a difficult task for authorities to upgrade Taunsa to a district as the tehsil has no infrastructure for revenue generation; its population is less than other tehsils of the division, like Jampur in Rajanpur and Kot Addu in Muzaffargarh.

Talking to Dawn, Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari said he himself was a staunch supporter of smaller administrative units for better service delivery, but it should be done according to a set criteria applicable to all.

Some administrative units are too large to serve people effectively, like Lahore and Karachi, while certain tehsils have more population than the district headquarters.

He said during the Usman Busdar reign in Punjab, the provincial government had notified a task force to review the boundaries of tehsils and districts in the province.

According to the TORs of the task force, the local district administration would initiate a proposal for new tehsils or districts. The proposals would be handed over to a study group consisting of the representatives of the Punjab Board of Revenue, Finance Department, P&D and Excise Department.

This study group would review the proposals on the basis of population, geography, and economic impact and send its recommendations to the cabinet committee for further proceedings.

If the population is the criteria, then at least eight tehsils of Punjab have more than one million population, while Taunsa has 675,000 population, while tehsils like Jampur have 850,000 population and Kotaddu 1.3 million population.

“New districts should be formed, not on whims but on set criteria,” the provincial minister said.

Mr Leghari said he had moved two resolutions on the first day of the current Punjab Assembly for initiating the process for the south Punjab province and making Jampur a district if it fulfilled the set criteria.

Major stakeholders like Khetrans, Qaisranis, Buzdars, Khwajgans and Malghanis who are active in local politics are in favour of the Taunsa upgrade.

Prominent political figures like Khwaja Sheraz, former chief minister Usman Ahmed Buzdar and Khwaja Daud are in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, while the Qaisrani tribe chief Mir Badshah Qaisrani is in the Pakistan Muslin League-N.

Mr Qaisrani told Dawn that in 2005, he protested against then chief minister Parvez Elahi for not announcing the establishment of district Taunsa at a public gathering at Taunsa.

He claimed that Mr Elahi had come to Taunsa only to announce the establishment of the Taunsa district, but before the holding of the public gathering, he was told by an authority not to make the announcement despite having the notification in his pocket.

Later, former chief minister Buzdar announced the establishment of district Taunsa and also issued a directive to initiate necessary work meant for the district before leaving the office of the chief minister office in the current year 2022.

Mr Buzdar, before tendering his resignation back in April, announced the establishment of new administrative units in Punjab, including the upgrade of Taunsa tehsil.

The incumbent chief minister has also decided to divide Lahore into two districts and carve out a new district of Muree tehsil.

Former district naib nazim of Dera Ghazi Khan, Javed Qaisrani, said that the proposed district Taunsa would have two tehsils - Koh-i-Sulaiman and Taunsa.

He says that the main beneficiaries of the decision, if implemented, will be Buzdar, Qaisrani and Malghani tribes and Khawjgan of Taunsa. Also, the Legharis and Khosas of Koh-i-Sulaiman will also be among the major stakeholders in the politics of Taunsa.

Khwaja Mudasar of the JUI said that the opening of new roads linking Balochistan with Punjab via Taunsa and the construction of a bridge linking Taunsa with Layyah and the linkage with the motorway would change the socio-economic map of Taunsa Sharif.

He claimed that in the future Taunsa Sharif would become a hub of economic activity as roads linking Balochistan with Taunsa were not as difficult as Dera-Quetta Road. He said trade activities have started from Balochistan via Taunsa Sharif through new safe routes. The dwellers of Dera Ghazi Khan would use the bridge linking Taunsa Sharif and Layyah to travel to Islamabad.

Khawja Mudasar said credit for the upgrade of Taunsa Sharif would go to Mr Buzdar.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022

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