Monday November 28, 2022

Have politicians given Islamabad up to technocrats?

July 14, 2020

Usually, it is supposed that after elections, politicians come to public view only to put up their nameplates on development projects. Second, it is also supposed that they take care of their electorate and try to maintain demography of their constituencies as they need votes every now and then.

However, both these assumptions have proven incorrect in the case of Islamabad. Or you can conclude that the federal capital gets a different breed of politicians.

Consider: it has been months that the country is hit by COVID-19. In every constituency, MNAs go from street to street using this challenge as an opportunity to reach out to the far edges of their constituencies and get in touch with their voters.

Food and aid distribution centres have dotted the city where technocrats made a beeline to. Acumen and profound professionalism of district administration teams made these centres the most organised ones, contrary to other parts of the country where scenes of jumbled-up crowds and mismanagement still haunt many.

Panahgahs in Islamabad are best managed and are like a magnate for technocrats. Neither do these technocrats need any contact with the masses, nor are they accountable to them. But then they continue frequenting these public places. Why? The answer is simple. The prime minister has a personal interest in these welfare projects, which means these technocrats too have a personal interest in these. One of them even made sure to get herself photographed in burqa at these centres to give an impression that she fixes all problems wherever she moves.

But it is beyond comprehension why do not our armchair politicians go out to grab these opportunities.

Baring Asad Umer or someone who may accompany him, we did not see any Islamabad-based politician going to public in this testing time. Even those who lost this election like Anjum Aqeel Khan or Tariq Fazal Chaudhry do not turn up to show that they share public concerns.

Similarly, Islamabad is having bumper development work going on. The sectors that had been stalled for decades are coming back to life. Bridges and interchanges are being built and water and sanitation problems are being addressed.

Sectors I-15, I-14, I-11, I-12 and a part of E-12 is witnessing development work after decades. Sectors G-12 and F-12 have been given to housing foundation, as if as a gift by the CDA, to develop. A major portion of these sectors will go to overseas Pakistanis. But no local politician ever tried to resist this move taking a stand for their electorate who are forced to languish in illegal housing societies where organisers exploit them every other day. Logically, they should have been concerned about imminent change of demography of their constituencies by this move but it seems that public vote is the last thing they care about. In addition, they seldom go on openings of these development projects.

The federal cabinet and other central bodies take major decisions about the city but the city is not their prime focus as they have to look at a broader canvass. The city mayor is mired in corruption charges. However, the deputy mayor is seen exhausting his energies on the ground to reach out to the masses. He is son of the soil and a future hope for the city.

True that the administration and other civic bodies have adopted a public friendly approach, but it is also true that Islooites need their representatives standing beside them. It is about time that local politicians tore through the impression that they have left their electorate at the mercy of technocrats.

— Hassan Shehzad