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Islamabad’s new mayor set to walk on a tightrope

Updated February 16, 2016


Islamabad’s newly-elected mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz.—DawnNews
Islamabad’s newly-elected mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz.—DawnNews

ISLAMABAD: When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s choice for Islamabad’s mayor, Sheikh Ansar Aziz, takes charge in the coming days, he will have to walk on a tight rope in dealing with the capital’s strong bureaucracy, decades-old issues and influential state minister for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

One of the state minister’s close relatives, Chaudhry Riffat, was among the three deputy mayors elected on Monday. Many citizens believe that it would be difficult for the mayor to take bold steps as Dr Tariq has his own programme for the city and there are chances of a conflict between the two.

However, the state minister and the newly-elected mayor at a joint press conference vowed that they would be working together for the development of the city.

“Following the directives of the prime minister, we will resolve all issues being faced by the residents,” said the state minister, adding it was great news for the PML-N that the first mayor of Islamabad belonged to it.

Mayor will have to take on strong bureaucracy, plethora of problems and CADD minister

Speaking to Dawn, the newly-elected mayor said he would pay special attention towards three major issues of the federal capital. “Construction of roads, resolving the sanitation issues and overcoming the water shortage are my priorities,” he said.

It may be noted that the federal capital has been facing a number of problems such as the shortage water, housing, illegal and unplanned buildings in zone four and five, a lack of garbage collection and dumping system in the rural areas and the ever growing encroachments on state land.

Bureaucrats in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have been using delaying tactics in implementing the building by-laws in zone four and five.

The implementation of the by-laws will be a test case for the new mayor.

According to the Local Government Act, the mayor is the executive head of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) who will provide a leadership vision to the IMC in consultation and coordination with other government agencies.

“I’m well aware of my responsibilities. I’ll play my due role in fixing the problems being faced by the residents,” the mayor-elect said.

The IMC will be responsible for resolving the civic issues.

A number of departments of the CDA and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) will be fully devolved to the IMC, including the water wing, sanitation, health directorate, district municipal authority, enforcement, environment, parks, sports and culture etc. Some departments such as the building control section, revenue, administration, road and market maintenance and environment protection wing will be partially devolved.

In addition, the services of nearly 10,000 CDA and ICT administration employees, currently working in 49 wings and directorates of CDA and ICT, will be surrendered to the local government.

A committee constituted by the federal government is currently working on the devolution of assets and functions etc.

One of the newly-elected deputy mayors, Syed Zeeshan Naqvi, who earlier won the election of UC chairman from Shah Allah Ditta, said he would focus on improving the culture of the city.

“I have a special plan of preserving the Shah Allah Ditta caves and will also work to protect the national park area.”

He said the youth of Islamabad lacked facilities for extra-curricular activities.

“A large number of CDA-owned cricket grounds are under the occupation of individuals who charge thousands of rupees from the youth per day. We have to fix all these problems.”

“We are also planning to start the traditional bull racing and tent pegging events,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2016