LAHORE: Candidates election campaign in NA-120 by-election is at its peak. For the first time many issues that remained dormant have come to surface. Residents’ of Amin Park in Bund Road area have been demanding establishment of a school for decades. This issue in the current election has not been on the agenda of the candidates.

There is no public sector school in the area. A few private nursery level schools exist which most of the people cannot afford. The area comes under PP-139, which is Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin’s constituency.

A local sanitary businessman 65-year-old Umar Hayat has been teaching the street children for the last one decade. “I do not want to be the last hope of the area in terms of education as government has to intervene on emergency basis. We do not have the luxury of time as children lose interest when there are no proper facilities,” Umar Hayat sitting at his sanitary shop told The Nation.

Umar Hayat aka ‘fauji’ (Army man) in UC-50 of NA-120 is a supporter and voter of PML-N candidate Kulsoom Nawaz . “I support what I think is better for people as most of the development work has been done by PML-N in different tenures,” Umar said.

The issues faced by the people of area have not been properly addressed as Umar Hayat who was also teaching the students five years ago during the 2013 general elections. “It has been more than four years but no improvement can be seen on the ground as even today we are deprived of a primary school in the area,” the businessman cum teacher said.

He briefed about local primary school which is temporarily set up in a seminary of Amin Park. “The funds were allocated for a separate building for primary school but then the project was lost in the piles of bureaucratic files,” he said.

Once again the elections are here and every candidate is electioneering at his or her best. “I am determined to vote for PML-N as this is the only party which can bring development to project. I believe we will get approval of school after the election,” he said.

Another aspect of the Amin Park area is the Pakhtun community which is 10 to 15 percent is also active in this by-election. The area of Amin Park has poor sewerage system and in the time of rain people are stuck up in their houses for days. 

The political situation is different now in Amin Park area. There are several other candidates in the area, who have opened their political offices. The tea stalls of the Amin Park are haunts where people from different walks of life meet and discuss the changing political scenarios.

According to Rehmat Ali who hails from Shafiqabad No 1 and runs tea shop in Amin Park area said: “Different parties’ candidate approach us and want us to vote for them. I think PML-N cannot change the area’s situation and meet our longstanding demand of establishment of school in the vicinity. This time I am voting for PTI candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid ,” he said.

Milli Muslim League is not in race but its candidate Sheikh Muhammad Yaqoob is now contesting as an independent candidate. He is running an aggressive campaign in the area. One person who did not disclose his whole name and called himself Tariq and about 24 years of age said Yaqoob has entered the race very late. “We are pretty sure they have no idea of our problems. We simply take their pamphlets with smiles as per the culture here.”

Five-year-old Simra and six-year-old Zeeshan are both students of Umar Hayat. Their parents are worried as they know Umar can teach them only very little and they need proper schooling, which they cannot afford as there is no public school in the area and they cannot afford to send them in schools that are very far. “We request the Punjab Government to establish a school in the area and enroll our children. Whoever wins the election does not matter to us. What matters is education for our children,” Walayat Khan parent of Zeeshan said.