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June 7, 2020

Missing mayor and misery of Islamabad

Islamabad

June 7, 2020

If Islamabad was ever in need of a leader, it is now. The data of death has never been so dreadful as now.

Over 40 of its residents and over 70 from its adjacent districts have so far kicked the bucket in its hospitals. Of the 4,323 confirmed cases, 629 patients have recovered which is reassuring.

In an ideal situation, it is the job of the mayor to make sure that every tragedy is counted, taken care of and countered.

But the federal capital’s misfortune is manifest from the fact that at this time its mayor is mired neck-deep in allegations of corruption and political engineering.

On June 6, the court disposes of his plea against his 90-day suspension from office so that inquiry into allegations of corruption against him could move forward.

Due to such controversies, politicians are defamed and it is perceived that they are not meant for service delivery.

The burden of service delivery is hence conveniently passed on to the city administrators, whom we mock as ‘babus’. True, concentration of power is an evil but what to do when there are no partners.

Chief Commissioner Amer Ahmed Ali (AAA) has stood the test of this testing time as he has led the city administration into the realm of digitization and accountability.

He sees to it that all his officers are available to the masses 24/7 addressing different problems.

He is like an ‘all in one’ package for the federal capital setting line for the city’s development and planning, law and order, pandemic prevention and community mobilization.

His deputy Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat has made sure that markets have points of physical distancing properly marked out to facilitate the masses. Shafqaat is like a bridge between the masses and the administration as he is more popular in Islamabad than any deputy commissioner ever.

But one area that is very important yet ignored is health facilities, including hospitals.

The federal capital has about 25 hospitals, seven of them public, and there are reports that they are ill-treating and in some cases denying treatment to corona suspects, which is unacceptable.

In modern capitals, every hospital is bound to dedicate 20 percent of its beds to corona patients. This practice needs to be adopted here too.

Hospitals have been encouraged to run in the town because of their character as public health service provider and this is about time that they were reminded of this character as some of them have been reduced to money-making machines.

The deputy commissioner may appoint a focal person to monitor the capacity and conduct of these health facilities vis-à-vis corona suspects.

The practice of name dropping is prevalent in its ugly form on Islamabad roads and it is no less than a challenge to make people follow the SOPs but the deputy commissioner has taken this bull by horns.

We can wish him success and wish Islooites well as it is just hoping against the hope to think that the mayor will come in action and play out his part.