RECENTLY, the Balochistan government approved the establishment of three new districts in the province; Hub, Karezat, and Usta Muhammad. The notification has intensified the debate on revising the criteria for creating new administrative districts.

With the approval of the three new districts, Balochistan now has 37 districts. The hasty creation of districts has, perhaps, benefited the local politicians and government functionaries, but the common man stands to get nothing out of it.

The new districts might strengthen the political clout of certain powerful families. The case of Hub is a glaring example of this. It was previously part of Lasbela district and now is a district itself. Some powerful influential people in the area played a crucial role in the creation of this district.

More districts lead to more government jobs, but there is no systemic apparatus to assess the service delivery at police stations, lower courts, hospitals and schools. Administratively, districts are created when the population of a district becomes too challenging to manage in terms of civic amenities.

In recent decades, it seems as if there are no standardised criteria for creating new units, neither demographic strength and revenue generation nor public convenience and manageability. Although technology, road networks and mobility have improved, these developments have not necessarily improved public service delivery.

Balochistan has increased the number of districts, but efficient public service delivery requires allocation of more resources, effective management, and synchronisation of the justice and law enforcement mechanisms.

Creation of new districts comes with new political machinery: constituencies for parliamentary seats, town council staff, deputy commissioners, etc. This further diverts resources towards administrative costs and away from the domain of service delivery.

The newly-formed districts will require staff; from clerks to deputy commissioner. Apart from their salaries, the government will need to allocate funds for their accommodation, travel and other benefits.

Likewise, new commissionerates will be established in Hub, Karezat and Osta Muhammad, resulting in additional expenses. There is no obvious benefit of this increased expenditure except some political mileage.

Furthermore, while forming new districts, certain areas are included or excluded. Hence, such notifications are either politically resisted or contested in the court. To avoid litigation, it would have been better had the community been taken into confidence before the announcement.

To avoid political discretion, the creation of administrative districts must be according to the laws which should mandate a commission to assess revenue potential, financial implications of upgrading the existing facilities, employment opportunities, public facilitation, infrastructural development, rescue response and crime management.

A committee should be formed to assess the ground realities and subsequently present a plan for discussion in the provincial assembly.

Division on the basis of ethnicity, race and caste will hurt the system rather badly.

Ahsanullah Mengal
Hub

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022

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