Punjab’s division, or more local councils?
PUNJAB’s division into two or more provinces on lingual grounds makes little sense as the province has a common language and even regional dialects merge into each other.
The scheme’s ethnicity is irrelevant as Urdu and English will remain the working and official languages of the old and new provinces alike.
The division on ethnic and administrative grounds is senseless. A province is not a unit of administration as is argued by the PML-N. It is a political and legislative entity.
The unit of administration has always the district, though its role and authority have been eroded by political interference.
It is hard to imagine what laws the legislature in Multan or Bahawalpur would be making that are any different, or better, than the laws made by the legislature in Lahore.
The penal and revenue codes not only of the province but of the whole country are common and so surely will remain in the new provinces.
It must, however, be conceded that the administrative authority in districts and in lower formations vests in civil servants to the exclusion of public representatives who may influence or coerce them but they are answerable to no representative forum.
The need, therefore, is for local councils in districts and not for more provincial legislatures and secretariats. The problems of the people arise not from the absence of law but from its violation or abuse.
Here the boot is on the other leg. The existence of local councils, in districts and talukas or tehsils below is obstructed, and the presence of councillors is resented, not by civil servants but by ministers and lawmakers.
The idea behind the creation of new provinces is no different. Politicians are seeking direct access to bureaucracy to influence its day-to-day work and more particularly to secure its support in electioneering.
That obviously was the motive in disbanding the councils a year or more ahead of elections to the parliament and provincial assemblies.
West Pakistan, as one unit, was administrated efficiently and economically but had to be broken up as it tended to overwhelm the culture and language of constituent provinces embedded in their history.
If the feeling is that grievances still persist on that ground, the boundaries of the provinces can be adjusted without adding to their number on lingual or on administrative grounds. It would only cause an unproductive expenditure.
It would thus be wise to empower the elected councils and municipalities in districts and cities and make the permanent officials answerable to them.
Jacques Chirac was the mayor of Paris before he became the prime minister of France. The present governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, is emerging as a strong candidate to be the president of Indonesia.