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June 16, 2019

Deputy mayor’s vision on development

Islamabad

June 16, 2019

Seldom is Islamabad represented by its indigenous people and it does not give them their due when it is. But leaders of developing world like China have disproved this tendency by calling Deputy Mayor Syed Zeeshan Naqvi to represent Pakistan in the 2nd China-South Asia Cooperation Forum last week in its Yunnan province.

Looking from our perspective, the deputy mayor seemed to be an under-representation of us when ministers and diplomats represented India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other countries. But it was not so when we look at it from the perspective of developing and developed countries. It was evident from the fact that the hosts had given him more protocol than others and he was seated in all ceremonies of the three-day forum in the front row. His speech was considered highly important in the opening ceremony.

Why did a world leader like China value him like this? is the question that would bother many including me who know that even the mayor is ignored in the federal capital, much less his deputy. The answer lies in the development indicators that set China apart from the world. Infrastructure in Chinese cities is matching European and American cities. Their level of development is not in any way less than anyone else in the world. Their roads are stuffed to the edges with trendy cars and their markets with global and Chinese brands.

Representatives of the Yunnan government present in the forum explained to the international audience that the secret of their success lies in its strong municipal system. The deputy director gender of foreign affairs of the province said that it is imperative for any officer to be appointed in the city management that he or she has experience in working in rural areas. Even the Chinese president spent seven years in rural development before becoming the president.

A brief chat with Mr Naqvi brings out the Chinese wisdom. Mr Naqvi knows the landscape of Islamabad like the back of his hand. He doesn’t need to ask anything from his secretary if you talk to him on issues of any street or any corner of the town. He said no federal government has ever taken the municipality of the capital seriously which is why the city is in such a mess now that no one knows what is going on.

“Only public representatives can take responsibility of the city because they own it. A clerk or a bureaucrat is unable to think beyond file work. Unfortunately, successive governments have doled out the federal capital to clerks who elevated their lot at the cost of development of the city,” he said. Prime Minister Imran Khan has time and again said that the country needs to follow the Chinese model to prosper. I hope that he cannot ignore the Chinese municipality system, the backbone of China’s development. Mr Naqvi is elected, son of the soil, energetic and ambitious; hence, he deserves a chance to demonstrate his talent for the betterment of the city. The PM has publically spoken about devolution of power through strong municipalities and it is logical to hope that he will give heed to the deputy mayor’s plans for city’s uplift as long as its inhabitants repose trust in him through ballot.

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