ISLAMABAD: The local government system in Islamabad created in 2015-16 had a minimal service delivery for the benefit of the citizens during its five-year tenure ending on Sunday. However, it brought out a number of grassroots level politicians who are now making a mark in parliamentary politics.

The first ever local government elections were held in November 2015 and subsequently Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) was created on Feb 14, 2016.

The MCI failed to deliver and remained neglected by both PML-N and PTI governments. Coupled with bureaucratic hurdles, the local government also remained without its rules of business.

Similarly, both the governments did not provide any financial package to MCI to launch development schemes at the union council level.

Three ex-members of MCI reached NA, Punjab Assembly; UC chairperson now allocated Senate ticket

However, MCI produced three national level politicians – MNAs Ali Nawaz Awan, Raja Khurram Nawaz and Member Punjab Assembly Abida Raja. They all belong to the PTI and remain its workers.

Now the PTI has awarded ticket to another local leader, Fouzia Arshad, who served as the chairperson of Union Council 28 (F-7 and F-8), for the Senate. She has a fair chance of victory based on the number of votes the party has for the seat.

Ms Arshad, a teacher by profession, effectively represented her union council in the MCI for five years and always remained active to get issues such as water shortage, sanitation and environment of her constituents resolved.

She joined the PTI in 2005 and also served as the president of the party’s women wing.

Speaking to Dawn on Sunday, she said the experience she gained from MCI will be very helpful for her to effectively taking up issues of the residents of Islamabad on the floor of the upper house.

“I will play my role to end urban-rural division from Islamabad. My area of focus will be education, health and women empowerment,” she said, and added that she will also play her role for setting up of the first women university in Islamabad.

“A bill is already in the Senate for converting F-7/2 College into a university. I will try my best to get this bill passed as Islamabad has no women specific university.”

Ms Fouzia said she would also work to enroll out-of-school children in Islamabad.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister MNA Ali Nawaz Awan, who was an active member of MCI, said it was nice to see that a teacher and chairperson of a union council was all set to become a senator.

“Now, people of Islamabad will have their voice in upper house of parliament too,” he said and added that earlier in most of the cases only landlords and elite were considered for the Senate but by awarding ticket to a schoolteacher and party worker the PTI has won the hearts of all its workers.

“We all three MNAs from Islamabad and Ms Fouzia will work as a team to improve the life standard of the residents,” he said. Mr Awan said local governments were a nursery for national politics.

Raja Khurram Nawaz, who before becoming MNA from Islamabad served as the chairman of UC Tumair, said his experience helped him get large numbers of issues resolved in his area.

“So for, I have launched projects worth around five billion rupees including provision of Sui gas in my constituency,” he said.

In 2018, the PTI awarded Senate ticket from Punjab to Seemi Ezdi, sister of former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen. Before becoming a senator, she served as vice chairperson of UC 29 (F-10 and F-11) Islamabad. Like PTI, the PML-N had also awarded ticket to Raja Waqar Mumtaz, chairman of UC Phulgran, for National Assembly but he lost to PTI’s Ali Awan.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2021

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