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December 17, 2008
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NA-123 voters left at mercy of fate

Opinion

December 17, 2008

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LAHORE

HAVING elected two former prime ministers and several dignitaries, NA-123 is still neglected by elected representatives who have left their voters on the mercy of their fate.

Residents of NA-123, Lahore VI, are encountering several problems such as poor sanitary conditions, deplorable road infrastructure, unavailability of Sui gas and potable water and deteriorating law and order.

Residents of the constituency have complained that even the victory of ‘VIPs’ couldn’t bring any relief to them and nothing had happened in the last 10 months even though they voted for a change in February 18 polls.

NA-123 consists of highly populated areas of Lahore, including Baghbanpura, a sufficient portion of GT Road, Shawala Chowk, Ghoray Shah, Singhpura, Gujjar Pura, China Scheme, Shadbagh and its highly populated areas, including Bhagatpurs, Bhumman, Jhuggiyan Village, Shershah Road, Kot Khawaja Saeed etc. Shalamar Chowk and a decent area around the historic Shalamar Garden also fall in this constituency.

The area consists of some 15 Union Councils, including Union Council 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21 (some part), 22 (some part), 23 (some part), 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37 and 38.

The whole constituency falls under Shalamar Town and Shafqatun Nisa is its nazim.

The provincial seats falling under the constituency are PP-143 and PP 144. The total number of registered voters in the constituency is 288,994.

The importance of the constituency can be gauged from the fact that it was carved out by bifurcating two previous constituencies, including a major part of previous NA-92 and also a noticeable area of previous NA-94.

NA-92 and NA-94 have witnessed the victories of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Quaid Nawaz Sharif and slain Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto. Benazir won from NA-94 in 1988.

The Pakistan Peoples Party, however, lost that seat in by-polls held within two months after Benazir

vacated her seat.

The Islami Jamhuri Ittehad (IJI) and later the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz won from here.

Nawaz Sharif won from NA-92 with a margin of nearly 20,000 votes in 1993. His brother Mian Abbas Sharif also won in the by-polls of 1993 and later Mian Azhar had a smooth sailing to the parliament with the support of the people living in the constituency.

In 1990, Humayun Akhter Khan also made his successful debut in politics from a major area falling in the constituency.

In 2002, the constituency was bifurcated and NA-123 came into being. In 2002 polls, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi won from here. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz maintained the tradition of winning from the area and Hashmi won from here in 2008 with a margin of around 50, 000 votes.

At least 70 per cent of the polled votes were cast in favour of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz whereas the Pakistan Peoples Party got 20 per cent, the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) just 8 per cent and rest of the candidates got 2 per cent of the total share of votes.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Quaid Nawaz Sharif is still the candidate contesting from here after Hashmi vacated the seat.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Quaid was disqualified from contesting polls and an appeal challenging the court’s decision is still pending.

A survey of this constituency revealed that it was lagging behind rest of the city in terms of development.

Residents of various Union Councils falling in the PP-144 said they were forced to live without Sui gas and pledges made by elected representatives over years had not been honoured. A decent part of population living in UCs, including 34, 35, 36, 37 is still seeking the fulfilment of promises made to them.

Sanitation and infrastructure issues are a common problem faced by the people of the constituency. Roads, including the Sultan Mehmood Road, the College Road, the Bukulal Road, the National Road are in need of immediate repair.

Residents of China Scheme Road, a major road link between GT Road and Bund Road, is in a highly deplorable state.

Local residents said some parts of road are in such a poor state that heavy trucks and trolleys often get stuck in the mud.

The sewage problem was another issue which needs immediate attention, residents said. People have said that knee-deep water was accumulated on roads particularly in the China Scheme Road even in dry season.

Nisar, a resident of China Scheme area, said residents had to pay Rs 50 on a daily basis to sweepers to clear blocked drains.

Muhammad Ilyas, another resident who showed a document to this scribe, said that residents had submitted an application to the local MPA and high-ups of the Punjab government to address this long neglected issue but to no avail.

The survey also revealed that majority of parks and their surroundings were littered with heaps of garbage and stagnant water was accumulated there. Residents have said that garbage and accumulated water bred mosquitoes and there were great chances of outbreak of diseases.

People, however, praised work done by sanitary staffers in Union Council 16 falling in PP-143 but said all areas needed equal attention.

In Union Councils, including 35, 36 and some part of 37, shabby conditions of roads and heaps of garbage need attention of authorities concerned.

A visit to Singhpura revealed that roads dug up to lay sewerage had been left unattended. Salman, a local store owner, said dust rising from dug-up roads was a constant source of trouble for shopkeepers.

People living in China Scheme and Bhagatpura complained about worsening law and order. Tahir, a resident, said that incidents of mobile snatching and robberies were a routine matter in China Scheme, Gujjerpura areas. He said the areas needed regular police patrolling and strict security measures.

Provision of potable water to a large number of people living in the area was also a very serious issue.

Residents of areas, including Bhamman, Jhuggiyan villages, Bhagatpura and China Scheme are also often seen complaining about the quality of water provided to them. Malik Zahid, a resident said the issue of quality of water had not been addressed over years and people had been left at the mercy of fate by elected representatives.

MPA Chaudhry Shahbaz Ahmed (PP-143) when contacted said that he was in regular contact with the people of his constituency and working day and night to address the problems faced by them.

He said sanitation was the responsibility of the district government and he could not interfere in its domain.

He, however, said special focus was being paid on the issues faced by the constituency and problems would be resolved soon. He said several roads had been constructed by the newly-elected government and much more would be done.

About law and order, he said incidence of crime had dropped to a considerable extent in recent months. He said no criminal activity was allowed or patronised by any political group in the constituency.

MPA Wasim Qadir (PP-144) said the Punjab chief minister was paying special attention on the issues faced by the residents of the constituency.

He said a plan to supply gas to the area was in the pipeline and would be implemented soon. He admitted that the issue of waste management needed immediate attention, saying steps were underway to address the issue.

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