The decision to divide Thatta in two districts by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government has not gone well with the local political opponents of party. A cross-section of the political and civil society representatives, however, have hailed the announcement of making Sujawal a separate district from Thatta.
The historical city of Thatta, which was once the capital of Sindh, was carved out from Karachi as a separate city in August 1948. It is the second largest district in Sindh, in terms of area, covering over 17,335 square kilometres.
The district, divided by River Indus, remained unified for over 65 years. According to the notification issued by the Sindh Revenue Department on Saturday, the right side of River Indus will comprise old Thatta district and the left side will come under the jurisdiction of newly created Sujawal. With the addition of Sujawal, the number of districts in the province has come up to 28.
Around 30 union councils of Mirpur Sakro, Ghorabari, Keti Bunder and Thatta taluka will come under Thatta district while Sujawal district comprises Mirpur Bathoro, Shah Bunder, Kharochan [excluding some dehs], Jati and Sujawal Talukas. Sources in the revenue department said that initially, a proposal had emerged to make Lyari a district, but the decision has been postponed temporarily.
All in favour
"New districts will make the administrative affairs smooth in the city. There was no political motive behind it. No one should raise objection to it," said Local Government Minister Owais Muzaffar, who won the provincial seat PS-88 (Ghorabari) from the district. "We have made this decision on the demand of the people of Sujawal."
Several political parties, including the PPP, religious groups and a couple of nationalist parties, held rallies in Thatta on Saturday to express their approval and celebrate the bifurcation. The rallies were taken out in both Sujawal and Thatta.
"We rejoice to hear this announcement," said Dr Ram Chand who represents Shehri Ittehad in Sujawal. "This will help people deal with their concerns about development, administrative and judicial issues easier than before."
According to PPP Karachi President Abdul Qadir Patel, the government was also considering bifurcating Karachi as well. "One or two more districts will be made in Karachi to ease the administrative matters," he said, adding that the decision was being made purely on merit without any political consideration.
Those who say nay
When the government had initially disclosed the proposal for Sujawal, certain senior members of the party had raised objections. But it appears that the party calmed its internal rifts as no opposition appeared after the notification.
The Shirazis of Thatta, who won the three provincial and one national assembly seats by defeating the PPP nominees in the May 11 election, however, said that they would launch a movement against this decision. "Thatta is a historical district and this decision by PPP's government is similar to the development of Zulfikarabad city. PPP is following the divide and rule policy, but people of our district will not allow it," MNA Ayaz Shah Shirazi told The Express Tribune.
The MNA, whose entire group has joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, rejected that Sujawal was born out of people's demand. "PPP had opposed bifurcation of districts during General Pervez Musharraf's tenure but now they are following Musharraf's policy."
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which during Musharraf's government had played a key role in bifurcating Hyderabad district, now appear to be annoyed over the creation of new districts in Karachi. The party's parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly, Syed Sardar Ahmed, said that for decades, Karachi has been one district and his party would resist any proposal floated to bifurcate the city. "It is not an easy task to change the administrative boundaries of existing districts."
The bifurcation of districts started in Musharraf's tenure when a few districts, including Hyderabad, Larkana, Dadu and Jacobabad, were divided to create new districts. At that time, PPP had opposed the move, saying it would weaken the party's vote-bank in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2013.
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