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LAHORE: There is no immediate possibility of according the hill station of Murree, the status of a district as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has banned creation of new administrative units until the holding of local bodies’ elections in Punjab. According to reliable sources, new administrative units could only start functioning in the new fiscal year.

They said the Board of Revenue (BoR) has briefed the Punjab government over the embargo which had announced in early January to ensure better administration and prevent the tragic incident of turning the hilly area into an icy deathtrap for thousands of families who had ended up stranded in their cars on the snow-covered roads leading into Murree, leaving at least 22 people, including 10 children, frozen to death inside the vehicles.

Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar had announced during his visit to the area that it had been decided in principle to award Murree the status of a district. He said the chief secretary and Board of Revenue had been asked to provide their suggestions.

It was generally understood that Murree would get the status of district within a month or two. However, the BoR sources are of the view that it could take over a year to complete the process. They said a number of measures including demarcation of revenue limits, budget for the administration, their offices and houses and human resources would take time to get a formal shape.

BoR sources have further pointed out that no progress could be made on the idea unless the appointments like a sessions’ judge, a deputy commissioner, a district police officer, district officers of health, education and municipal services, an additional district collector of revenue, among other departmental heads are announced.

The sources said the Punjab government can separate Murree, Kotli Sattian and Kahuta from Rawalpindi district to form a new district that would require more work and funds.

It is worth noting that the former PML-N government also decided to give Murree status of the district in 2014. At that time, the government had formed a seven-member committee, led by then-petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. However, the plan did not materialize due to political and administrative issues.

Kunwar Dilshad, former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan, when contacted, said the ECP has announced holding of elections, therefore, the ECP would nullify any such notification if issued by the Punjab government. He said any such move ahead of the holding of local bodies elections would be taken as a hurdle in smooth holding of elections, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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