Islamabad unfriendly city to poor
The best I find in this respect is the city transport system of Jakarta. Perhaps no better road transport system exists any where in the region than in Jakarta. After my retirement my friend Ghulam Mohammed Facto – the multi-millionaire industrialist- wanted to accompany me to Indonesia to visit Bali. I told him that in that case we will go Dutch , as he will have to come down to my level . We will stay at ordinary hotels, take busses and eat at ordinary restaurants and share the cost on 50/50 basis. He agreed. We used busses all along.. There were all kinds of busses, mini buss, big busses , air conditioned and non AC m double dockers like in London and the fare was nominal. Disciplined queues, the buss will wait for all passengers, old and young, no pushing no tussel for seat. We went in a buss to Bali.. Over night we were provided blankets and pillows in the buss, first class night coach, and reached Bali in the morning fresh. We returned to Jakarta same way. Most pleasant trip and low cost travel. I wish we can have transport system like it exists in Indonesia. Inter-sector busses are necessary for even the middle class. They too cannot afford taxis for transport within Islamabad and they are becoming more expensive every day with the cost of patrol going up every now and then.
In all the foreign capitals, of the third world , in Ankara, Beirut, in Cairo –during my posting there I found that majority in the residential areas was of multi-storied apartment buildings and much less of villas, or individual houses. Perhaps the best apartment buildings are found in Ankara. Incidentally in all these cities I mentioned the high and mighty continued living in the apartment they would have bought long ago before they became V I P s like my friend Sufi Abu Taleb, continued living in his apartment even after becoming Speaker of the Parliament and later Acting President of Egypt after Anwar Sadat’s assassination; or General Fahmi , COS, Commander of Egyptian Forces of 1973 Arab Israeli War or others since the Government did not provide accommodation to its officers, as it was in Ankara too, General Hosnu Ozkan COS Turkish Air Force, lived in an ordinary flat in a multi-storied building near Kizlai. Ankara. In Belgrade, the top leadership of the regime lived in small flats in a two storied residential compound.
Every now and then new sectors are opened in Islamabad and many Housing Societies are mush rooming for building posh houses and villas which can be afforded only by the rich or for those who can obtain financing for benefiting from the housing schemes. Low income group are out from those hosing schemes, Villas or luxury multi-storied apartments are offered for sale. Can any clerk, naib quasid or stenographer even dream of joining these housing schemes Where can a low salaries worker or employee live in Islamabad. In jhuggis, katchi abadis or in renting servant quarters in a grand house. The low salaried employees houses originally constructed were far too little compared to the great increase in the number of employees at lower level with the extraordinary increase in the number of “ministries” and consequently in the government staff at lower level. However, Islamabad population of the low income group is not limited to Government employees only- far greater is the number of other poor workers. Apartment buildings are not in fashion .Is it because in Pakistan in modern cities, individual apartment holder’s ownership is legally not recognized by the CDA , only ownership of the entire “plaza” is registered. CDA has made a compromise in its stand . For the sake of collecting revenue from the apartment owners has started to charge property tax on the size of the apartment but the apartment is still not registered in the name of the owner. When I was in Paris during my diplomatic service I learnt that the owner of an apartment in a big building even is given a share even in the land on which the apartment is constructed
It is sheer stupidity to erect multi-storied fancy apartment buildings in Islamabad, where there is shortage of water and electricity and Islamabad is in earthquake Zone. When I look at these monstrous sky scrapers I think what a colossal stupidity. Nothing in Islamabad should be more than three or at the most four stories
. Anyway to return to Islamabad problem lack of small apartments buildings makes living for the poor in Islamabad an ordeal. Building for low income wage earner is obviously not profitable. It should be the Government’s responsibility- or of C D A. to build apartment buildings for the poor Where public weal is concerned and there is hardly any business profit but the project is for the welfare of the lowest income group, it should be the government’s responsibility to bear the cost. It should stop building Palaces for its top echelons and Mughal Courts for its secretariats, and luxury houses for its wadera-turned parliamentarians, and instead build apartment buildings for the workers also. The idea of creating every facility for the politically pampered is anti-people They should have ordinary rooms for temporary stay in Islamabad during the Assemblies and Senate’s sessions, not family quarters like those of a five or six start hotels . Every day some grand project is launched for the over pampered politicians – in one capacity or the other. May I ask whether the Indian Governors, Chief Ministers, MPs, MLAs have such luxuries lodges in, say Punjab House, Chandigarh or in New Delhi or have such luxurious Raj Bhawans for themselves as their counterparts have in Pakistan. I have stayed in some in India My intention is that lavish living of the so-called public representatives at the expense of the rights of the poor must stop
I has raised this very point in 1979, when I was Additional Foreign Secretary Administration- whose office used to be the assembly point for all ambassadors coming to Islamabad on duty or personal visit - I once asked Sahebzada Yaqub Khan , then Ambassador at Paris who was going to meet “President” Zia – who a la Communist style of rewriting history has been made non-person now - to convey to him that Islamabad will become the City for the Rich only, if apartment buildings for the poor are not constructed . The President should allocate space in all sectors for low income persons also. Zia did send a Minister to Belgrade to study and report on the Low Cost housing in Belgrade so that we could copy it. Like all such reports on better performance by foreign government in certain sectors it also found its resting place in the Black Hole of the Archives. Apartment buildings for low income group and the poor, and good inter- sector public transport system are the most pressing needs of ordinary Pakistanis in Islamabad.