The residents of Union Council 119 harbour resentment towards the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The party had a 1,374 vote deficit in the NA-122 by-election, “this is the first time the PML-N has lost here in 27 years,” Ghafoor, an elderly resident of the area, says.
Residents say they do not have access to safe drinking water. The pipes that bring water to this area haven’t been replaced in 40 years, they say. “The streets are filthy…people throw household garbage on the railtracks and Wasa officials routinely set the garbage on fire,” a resident says. The foul stench of burning garbage pervades the locality whenever that happens, they say.
A lot of houses in the area are in a dilapidated condition and some of the roofs caved in this year.
Ehtsaham, 55, said he and his wife were asleep when the roof of their house caved in. He says his wife’s backbone got fractured and she could no longer walk.
PML-N candidate for chairman Malik Muhamamd Imran, a property dealer, was elected general councillor in 2001 and 2005. He says their party was in the opposition in 2001 and 2005, but they had done their best to serve the people of the area. He says he had managed to get a water filtration plant set up and provided a dispensary and playground for children.
PTI candidate for chairman Chaudhry Rizwan Yousaf, who runs a cars show-room, was elected naib nazim in 2005 and general councillor in 2001. The PTI candidate for vice chairman Shahid Hayat, who runs an internet café, pooh-poohed the PML-N candidates’ claims. “The people are done with their lies.” The water-filtration plant, dispensary and playground for girls were nothing but photo-ops, they say. “The filtration plant has been dysfunctional since its inauguration by Ayaz Sadiq. The dispensary has been occupied by Wasa officials and no doctor sits there… the playground is in fact a pond of stagnant water.”
They say their area needs a school for girls, clean drinking water, a proper cleaning system and an upgraded sewerage system. Yousaf promises that he will try his best to get the people of his area these amenities once he’s elected.
Responding to Yousaf’s allegations, Imran says that the filtration plant has been shifted. “We are trying to get an electricity meter for the plant. Once that happens, it will be operational.” On the pond of stagnant water that he called a park, he says he had installed swings at the park but they had broken down. “We got funds allocated for the renovation of the park, but then the local government election spiel began and we could not carry out development work.” On the dispensary occupied by Wasa officials, he refused to comment.
The total number of registered voters in the UC is around 12,000. Of those, 7,000 are men and 5,000 are women. Prominent areas in the UC are Railway Colony, Awa Badhoo, Achant Garh, Mian Park, Lower Workshop, Baja Line and Brott Colony.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.