ISLAMABAD - Over a year back when billboards in the congested NA-56 constituency in Rawalpindi were extolling Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), after he swept the seat in general elections, people of the populous area are now all praise for the leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as Khan is out of sight for the voters.
Roads and streets in NA-56 have been dug up for repair, filtration plants are being repaired and facilitation centres have been set up for residents to file complaints as PML-N’s overdrive for uplift work enters the constituency where it was defeated in last year’s election.
Residents who had voted for PTI are disappointed with Khan for not visiting the constituency since getting elected leaving space for PML-N to cash in on the gap between Khan and his voters in the constituency.
“This area gave 80,000 votes to him (Imran) but he has disappeared since winning the seat. People here have pity problems to discuss with area MNA but it seems as if NA-56 has no representation at all,” Muhammad Yousuf, 38, dealing in real estate business and PTI supporter in Rawalpindi told The Nation.
Data Ganj Bakhsh Road, the main artery running across the congested constituency, was a dusty road until it was dug up on the direction of PML-N MPA Raja Hanif Advocate for repair; a move that has triggered people to display his posters in praise as re-carpeting of the road was a strong demand of the area people.
Not only voters in NA-56 show dismay over the absence of MNA Imran Khan from his constituency but also by the PTI local leadership which thinks the disappearance of their leader might cause things worse for local candidates in next elections.
Though the PTI chief outsmarted PML-N stalwart Hanif Abbasi in NA-56, residents of the area continue to throng the residence of Abbasi in posh Satellite Town for getting their jobs done as the former traders’ union activist have been empowered to be in touch with all government departments after he was appointed as chairman of the multibillion rupee under-construction Metro Bus Project.
From police and district administration in Rawalpindi to Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Islamabad, Abbasi is in touch with heads of all provincial and federal government departments related to the bus project, a portfolio according to a senior PML-N member, which is equivalent to status of a federal minister.
Usually opposition MNA and MPAs recommend priority projects in their respective areas to federal and provincial governments through MNAs and MPAs grants or special grants, but Khan has so far not put forth any proposal of uplift project in his constituency.
“I represent NA-56 as MPA and have suggested more than 12 new schemes for the area. But so far MNA Imran Khan has not conceived any new initiative for his constituency. He should visit the area at least,” MPA Raja Hanif told this reporter on phone.
The PTI leadership including its District President Tariq Kayani had recently announced that Imran Khan would visit Rawalpindi and would establish ‘Khidmat Markaz’ for facilitation of voters and supporters; however, so far things are the same.
Some people, who had exhibited strong loyalty to PTI at the cost of making enmity with PML-N during elections, find themselves in a quagmire now as they can neither find Khan nor can approach PML-N leaders for resolving their issues.
Lal Marjan, 48, a shopkeeper in NA-56 near Iqbal Town, is one of the few people who have hoisted PTI flag on house but the relief he had expected from leaders is yet to knock his door.
“Sometimes I think I should remove the party flag because my leader has not approached the area so far and on the other side, the flag may anger the rival political party,” Marjan, who had voted for PTI, said.