For years the British have been mocked and downgraded as looters and plunderers of sub-continent’s wealth. Since history itself is a matter of personal discourse and personal opinion, most Indian and Pakistani historians have vowed to depict British as the bad guys. However, upon scrutinizing the details which most willingly and most wittingly are shirked off by us, one realizes that the British actually played a great deal in helping to lay the foundations of the very cornerstones that proved to be beneficial for the prosperity that India and Pakistan as separate, independent countries, enjoy today. Nobody was ever interested in being at the ‘giving end’ as far as this land was concerned as much as the British, be it the French, the Dutch, the Portuguese or even the Spanish. After all, it is the Indians and the Pakistanis now benefitting from the roads and the bridges that the British built here at the turn of the 19th century. It is now our children, benefitting from the educational institutes that the British established here almost a century ago. The British in the subcontinent were undoubtedly great administrators, and what made them great administrators was their infrastructure. From every mile of railway track that they laid to every girder on the bridges that they built, all is vividly intact and operational till date. 

Most compatriots would not appreciate this posture of lending a favorable tone to the former masters. What needs to be understood, is that it is but true, and this article is primarily based upon understanding the idea, rather the principle, that credit must be given where it is due and likewise, criticism must be applied where necessary.

Earlier this week I went on a trip to Abbotabad with my father. We journeyed through the motorway. Though it wasn’t the best weather for travelling, but the measureless expanse of agrarian richness on both sides of the road, made it serene and pleasant for the eyes. The pastoral tranquility offered by the peaceful fields on the left and on the right helped to balm our nerves that remain perpetually taut in our city lives- this experience, however, was short lived.

What awaited us at a distance of some 400 kilometers from Lahore, was exceedingly excruciating as well as brutally disappointing.

Whatever descriptions of a beautiful, calm and clean Abbotabad that my father, who had visited KP some 30 years back, had narrated to me on the way, fell flat on our faces when we entered the province through the gates of Hazara.

The narrow roads were in their weakest, debilitating condition. The system of the traffic was terribly disordered and the traffic wardens seemed absolutely helpless, as if they had given up on the situation. The road diversions were all messed up, even the signations were incorrect. No new projects, no widening of the roads, no bridges could be seen being built. At the entrance of Abbotabad, the city side, a storm of vehicles hit us; the main road leading to the cantonment was jammed with motors and horse-and-buggy carts; the encroachments had narrowed the road so much that it made it virtually impossible for our car to move forward and we literally moved by inches. It took us two and a half hours to cover the main road’s area in order to get to the cantonment where we had our stay planned.

Coming from a family that voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the last elections and remembering the spirit and the energy with which that vote had been cast, I felt a certain inexplicable blow of disillusionment amidst the traffic interpolations and the muck that hovered around in the city.

During three of the six days that we had originally planned to stay in Abbotabad, my father told me that he had not observed any veritable progress in the city, rather it had only worsened. Abbotabad, being the most essential city after Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, did not provide me with any site to be proud of the choice I made in the 2013 elections. Neither could I spot newly developed infrastructure, nor could I observe an admirable law and order implementation, no hygiene standards were seen being observed in public restaurants because a system of check-and-balance did not exist over people, even the schools were falling apart and lacked security. The only respite was found in the army cantonment area where places like the Piffers’ mess, the Station Headquarters and the AMC Centre had neatly leveled, manicured lawns, the roads were clean and the traffic was well controlled- the credit of which cannot be justifiably allocated to the provincial government. But the question was, how long could we confine ourselves to the domains of the mess where we were putting up? In two days’ time, we had virtually viewed all the corners of the cantonment. We dared not discuss the proposition of heading out towards the city side, the scene of an absolute mayhem struck us each time we thought about so. The conditions forced us to pack up and kick off on our third day, as nobody enjoys sitting mechanically before the television and keep his eyes glued to some news channel for three days in a room with multiple odd hours of loadshedding.

With a heavy heart, we set off tentatively at 5pm and reached Lahore at roughly 2 in the morning.

It was still dark when we reached. The roads were peaceful, however, cars and rickshaws were still present, though in small numbers, forLahore never does entirely go to sleep; but what intrigued us the most was the fact, and I state this with responsibility, that upon hitting the city we spotted large road-sweeping machines with rotation-brushes at Jail road, cleaning the place; there were teams, trimming and watering the grasses and the plantation in the green-belts at the main boulevard; the underpasses had been cordoned, teams were spotted adding designs and colors to the inside of the underpasses. My father and I unconsciously kept drawing a comparison between the narrow havoc-stricken unkempt roads of Abbotabad with the widened gleaming roads here. The city looked pretty.

We thanked God on returning home.

Any independent citizen who swivels an eye around, has the right to comment and express his views based on his personal observation, and for any observation that carries out an independent exegesis of a given political situation, it is essential for it to be reasonable. Undoubtedly, Mr. Khan’s efforts to curb corruption in the country and bring the corrupt politicians to justice, is a noble thing to do, but as an individual, observation demands that he and his party be criticized for their inability to develop or even lay the first bricks of “essential infrastructure” in a city that holds the stature of defining the face of the province, in a time of two and a half years.

“Qoum roadon say nahi banti Mian sahib” is one famous statement Mr. Khan utters in his public addresses, but then he needs to understand that we as a country have prominent issues and hence our priorities need to be targeted towards these issues. Keeping in consideration the bulky size of the population, the masses do need roads, bridges, underpasses and other civic facilities. For a minute even if we do suppose that Mr. Khan’s government has a perversity and disclination towards the idea of investing in building or widening roads in KP, what about hospitals, schools, hygiene standards and developing tourism? Is even that not on the to-do list? 

Blind support is never a healthy business. People will condemn, castigate and criticize - that is what they are supposed to do and as a matter of fact, what they are needed to do. Infrastructure is unavoidably important - it is but a necessity. PTI must deliver in the province where it actually secured a heavy mandate; a province whose people have set their trust in the party. It must look into addressing the issues of the people of KP and endeavor to make the province a model one for progress and development, instead of stacking rhetorical speeches one on another. People need reason to be proud of their choice when it comes to elections and if veritable delivery is not what can be seen, the party itself would be responsible for embittering the spirit of its supporters.