Published Aug 30, 2018 06:58am

Despite being powerless, MCI serves as a springboard for local politicians

Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Three members of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) have moved on to national and provincial politics this election season.

Two members became national and provincial assembly members in the July 25 elections, while opposition leader in the house Ali Awan has received a PTI ticket for the NA-53 by-election in Islamabad.

All three of these politicians belong to the PTI; Khurram Nawaz, previously the chairman of the Tumair union council, defeated former minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry to become the MNA for NA-52 while another MCI member Abida Raja was appointed MPA on a reserved seat in the Punjab Assembly.

During his tenure as opposition leader of the MCI, Mr Awan gave the previous government a hard time. However, he also assisted the PML-N mayor when it came to protecting the MCI when both the treasury and opposition benches filed a joint high court petition to strengthen the house.

Two MCI members moved on to national, provincial politics in general election, opposition leader to contest NA-53 by-election

At the 26th session of the MCI held at the Pak-China Friendship Centre on Wednesday, Mr Awan received praise from the house, including Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz.

“I have a full understanding of the issues being confronted by residents of Islamabad. If elected, I will raise my voice for the welfare of the public,” he said at the MCI session amid thumping from members on either side of the aisle.

PTI and some PML-N representatives also took the opportunity at the session to criticise the previous government for its lack of attention when it came to strengthening the MCI.

“If our government looked into the issues of the people of Islamabad with the public eye they would have won the elections. But unfortunately, my party looked at the issue with bureaucratic eyes,” said PML-N member Rana Ishfaq.

All three PML-N candidates in the general election, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Dr Chaudhry and Anjum Aqeel, lost heavily to PTI in the capital.

During the session, the house discussed various issues including water scarcity in the capital, encroachment and the lingering matter of assets distribution between the MCI and the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The mayor told the house that CDA assets had been or were to be transferred to the MCI after approval from a high-level committee, but the authority was still creating obstacles to the process.

He said the CDA chairman recently objected to the transfer of 71 assets and properties to the MCI and the matter is now being heard by a committee.

Chief Metropolitan Officer Syed Najaf Iqbal said the CDA chairman, apparently because of pressure from the CDA union, had been drawing out the assets distribution issue. He also briefed the house on the status of the MCI’s rules of business and rules of establishment, which have yet to be approved or notified by the Ministry of Interior.

The session discussed the responsibility of elected representatives to monitor the progress of environment staff. The meeting unanimously supported the monitoring system and said that in order to maintain Islamabad’s green character and to remove wild bushes and grass, the environment wing should be made more efficient and active.

The members said that the MCI’s environment wing had failed to deliver, because bushes are growing in the entire capital.

The session also unanimously approved an increase in the TAB vaccination fee, which eateries and workers involved in the production of edible products are charged, from Rs30 to Rs150.

The house discussed encroachments by restaurants in Saidpur Model Village and decided that the complete details would be presented before the house in the next session to evolve a comprehensive policy.

Mayor Aziz briefed the house on the water situation in the wake of the recent rainfall, saying that the water level in Simly Dam had risen substantially and groundwater levels had also increased, leading to improvement in the extraction of water from tubewells.

He told members that efforts were being made to get a budget from the federal government so that the MCI could be made truly functional, and was assured by PTI members of full government support in this regard.

Earlier in the session, treasury and opposition benches criticised the local administration for registering an FIR against MCI member Chaudhry Manzoor for setting up a cattle market.

The house argued that establishing a cattle market is the domain of the MCI and union councils, and the Islamabad Capital Territory administration was not involved. Members suggested that ICT officials appear before the house at its next meeting to explain themselves.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2018

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