LAHORE   -   The Lahore constituency (NA-122) from where Sardar Ayaz Sadiq defeated PTI Chairman Imran Khan in 2013 and became the National Assembly speaker has literally been fragmented, with each of its five parts, carved out as a result of the latest delimitation, is attached now to a different lower house constituency of the provincial metropolis.

The constituencies it has been merged with are NA-126, NA-127, NA-128, NA-129 and NA-130 Lahore. The major chunk of the constituency has been received by NA-130 which contains eight of 26 union councils of this constituency. The same way the PP-147 and the PP-148 under this National Assembly seat have also been recomposed under the fresh delimitations carried out on the basis of fresh census.

The main part of NA-122 - Samanabad and GOR II - has been included in NA-126 and a part on the side of Mozang has been merged with NA-125 while Baja Line Singhpura and UET have been made part of NA-127. The major part of NA-122 namely Mayo Gardens, Mian Meer Village, Mughalpura, Ghari Shahu and Dharampura have been annexed with NA-129 while Ichhra, Wahdat Road and Shadman are now included in NA-130.

The voters of NA-122 still do not know which constituency their area has been made part of. But their problems and their woes are still binding them together.

This constituency is memorable for having the most expensive by-election of Pakistan’S history on October 11, 2015 which was contested between PML-N’s Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and the PTI’s Abdul Aleem Khan. The PML-N leader won this by-election by a margin of 2,000 votes.

That election goes into the national history for its heavy spending that according to some estimates ran into billions of rupees.

It is interesting that NA-122 seat has been held by Sardar Ayaz Sadiq while PP-147 and PP-148 under it, were won by Mian Aslam Iqbal and Shoaib Siddiqui of the PTI. As such both parties shared good and bad of the constituency.

During a survey of NA-122, which comprised highly posh localities to highly poor ones, a very pitiable situation was witnessed in the poor localities although outwardly this constituency was beautified with new roads, water filtration plants and tube-wells.

The constituency had posh areas like Shadman, Shah Jamal, GOR, Upper Mall, Zaman Park, and Mayo Gardens to the Katchi Aabadis, Railway Colony, Dharampura and Singhpura with Ichhra, Mughalpura Rehmanpura, Ghari Shahu, Samanabad etc. - the mix of both middle and lower middle class people in between. NA-122 covered a vast area of Railways land and houses, the most expensive educational institutions like Aitchison College, Kinnaird College University, Queen Mary College and the hotels like Royal Palm, Lahore Gymakhana, Faletti’s, Punjab Club, Lahore Press Club in the surrounding of Baghe Jinnah while on the other hand there are totally slum localities. The famous Ichhra Bazaar and Shadman Market and commercial sites of Ferozpur Road, and Shalimar Link Road were also part of this constituency.

The survey provided variegated public opinion to this scribe according to area, profession and quality of life. However, people in all areas were dissatisfied with their leaders in one way or the other. The voters at the lowest were found in deep trouble due to lack of facilities so they wanted direct interaction with the elected representatives while the middle class people set the barometer of development work to determine worth of the elected representatives. In the posh areas, the voters judged their local member through his political party about which they took a much broader view to know its potential to deal with changes taking place at the global level and affecting Pakistan. It was found that a change of mind has come about among the people of every class as they now compare themselves with the people in other countries of this continent to know what benefits others received from their political leadership and what ours has done for them spending the public money.

The constituency had Services Hospital, Punjab Institute of Cardiology, newly-built Samanabad Hospital with few others like Mian Meer Hospital and Ghari Shahu Hospital but they are quite short of catering to the health facilities of the people of the area which the census shows has crossed over 800,000. The patients had many complaints like non availability of medicines and staff.

The dispensaries visited in Wahdat Colony, Pakistani Chowk Ichhra and Railway Colony still required improvement and quality medical facilities. The cleanliness situation left a big question mark as piles of garbage were present outside or nearby some dispensaries and many CDGL schools. Middle Girls School Chaduhry Colony, Kachi Aabadi Ichhra, and some schools were given a better look but complaints about lack of playgrounds and non-availability of clean water and long hour loadshedding were abundant about them.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq inaugurated tubewells and water filtration plants in various UCs but people in Samanabad, Wahdat Colony, Bank Colony, Pakki Thatti, Baja Line, Larex Colony, Dharampura, Singhpura, Moghalpura and many other areas complained about shortage of water and non-availability of filtered water for the reason, either the plants were out of order or too away and difficult to reach through narrow streets and crowded roads. There were insufficient or no streetlights in many parts of the constituency while the people also seriously grumbled over the lack of graveyard areas for the locals after graveyard of Ichhra and Ahatta Mulchand had been filled to their capacity over the years.

Sewerage system was learnt as the most serious problem of the constituency. In Ichhra, Samanabad and Ghari Shahu main road new sewerage lines were laid but streets and bazaars were still overflowing with choked sewerage and the manholes bubbling out filthy water adding to the woes of everyone.

The highly painful sight was of the garbage heaps at different places in lower and middle class localities and the people were forced to pass daily life in that environment. Pools and ponds of dirty water were also seen with mosquitoes making sorties over them. People in Ichhra complained about highest rate of dengue victims but no independent report was available in this regard.

The residents and shopkeepers at Ichhra Bazaar and the adjoining areas made serious complaints of the sewerage and rainwater continuously inundating the areas. They said high level of the newly constructed road, had lowered the constructions on their sides where water got stored and no system was there to drain the water out. A shopkeeper Abdul Hameed said that no proper sewerage system had been laid down over the last 20 years but new roads had been constructed without addressing the basic and chronic problem. He did not have good opinion about Sardar Ayaz who he said, did not show his face after election although his official motorcade mostly drove through his constituency. One Mr Naqvi went a step ahead in sharing poor performance of the ruling government and said, the elected members of ruling party have “devoured” the entire development funds of the constituency while at the local government level, nothing was being done as two MPAs and some UC members of this constituency belonged to the PTI.

Every shopkeeper was in trouble due to overflowing and stagnant dirty water. The shopkeepers also pointed out to this scribe high voltage hanging live electricity wires throughout the bazaar. They said many incidents of short circuiting had taken place and consequential arson had gutted many shops causing huge financial loss but no one ever cared. They said Rs 120million were earmarked for providing street lights to the area but nothing had been done. Their indignation was also against the local representatives who had made them shuttlecock between MNA and administration as they take complaints at the grassroots where they only learn about the dearth of funds hence send them the parliamentarians or the administration.

The traffic system and the security arrangements were also found poor and insufficient. No proper parking and security check was seen at Ichhra bazaar where lakhs of people from all over the province daily come for shopping. It was learnt that two times the transformer installed in the bazaar blasted which claimed life of a kid. But even then nothing was done to fix the problem.

The women in the residential areas lamented over the dirty and infected water running through the tap. They said only cosmetic development of the constituency had been done and no real issue was touched for rectification. They grumbled over up to 12-hour long loadshedding every day in the area and non-availability of natural gas for domestic use in winter. One Sajida drew attention towards the kids playing near the garbage heap and dirty water pools. The sight was quite painful. Most of the streets in the constituency were in a shambles while famous Zaildar Road had been completed just days before the end of the government tenure after it was left incomplete for months.

Unlike the past, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq after his re-election became a visitor to his constituency and initiated development schemes but his interaction with the common man remained rare.

Abdul Aleem Khan Foundation, of the PTI’s Aleem Khan has set up three dispensaries in Ghari Shahu in addition to setting up water filtration plants which are mostly in the Railways Colony, Dharampura, loco shops and the adjoining areas.

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The PTI is not pleased with the division of NA-122. Shoaib Siddique says it has been done with a plan fearing the rising popularity graph of his party. Mian Aslam is also displeased with division of the constituency.

Mian Aslam Iqbal of the PTI told this scribe that he was doing his best to provide relief to the people of his constituency. However he also groused lack of funds by the government to him. He said as minister after election 2002, he carried out many development projects which related to their real problems. He said he always shared joys and sorrows with his voters and would never leave them in any case.

 

SAJID ZIA