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Power devolution through new provinces

September 03, 2012


ONCE again two main political parties of the country are at loggerheads with each other on the issue of Seraiki province. So far they have just played the politics of passing resolutions on this matter. Decentralisation and devolution of the state authority are some important elements of good governance as concentration and centralisation of power are considered the hallmarks of autocratic and totalitarian governments.

For some reasons, since the establishment of Pakistan, we have been obsessed with the idea of concentration and consolidation of power at the centre.

The establishment of One Unit in 1955 by consolidating the four provinces of the West Pakistan is a glaring example of it. It had been often justified in the name of balancing the two federating wings of the country.

However, balance could have also been achieved by dividing the eastern wing into smaller parts to match the western wing of the country.

Ever since the three smaller provinces of West Pakistan have been constantly blaming and accusing Lahore for all their failings and deprivations.

If we take a look around our neighbourhood, we can see that there are 28 provinces in India, 34 provinces in Afghanistan, 30 provinces in Iran and 33 provinces in China. Both in terms of population and area, we have the largest provinces in the region.

The recent efforts in the direction towards creating new provinces in the country seem political rather than practical.

Provinces are just administrative divisions and are meant for administrative convenience and effectiveness; therefore, they should not be used as instruments for the ethnic and linguistic assertions and recognition.

Instead, the existence of eight to 10 provinces in the country by dividing Punjab into three and other three provinces into two units each is quite appropriate and needed. Besides this, the devolution of power to further lower tiers in the provinces is also necessary as the provincial autonomy without effective local government institutions would not yield positive and fruitful results.