ISLAMABAD: Islamabad’s NA-54, the urbanest and smallest of the three constituencies of Islamabad, has a population of 630,152 and 218,697 registered voters. Pakistan Today interviewed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar, a former MNA from NA-48 which is predominantly the same constituency from which NA-54 has been carved out.
Asad Umar, who has been patted as the next finance minister if PTI comes to power, talked about his past performance, future plans and how his campaign is coming about.
Q: What sort of a person voters should elect as they throng polling stations on July 25?
AU: A voter should be clear about the criteria on which he aims to elect his representative.
Every voter wants a remedy for his problems at both local and national level. Some issues like roads, parks, rehabilitation of schools and other such issues are very important. In Islamabad, the people of rural areas face a dire situation as graveyards are unavailable.
Then there are national issues like unemployment. So the ideal candidate is one who has an understanding of issues at both levels and can play his role.
Q: What have you done for the people of your constituency in past five years?
AU: I was elected in a by-election and not in a general election and that too as an opposition MNA. I knew that I’ll neither have the resources nor the say in the matters of government, and all I could do was to raise voice for the people at different forums and legislate for them.
I have presented six bills on the floor of the parliament, which hasn’t been done by anyone in the entire history of Islamabad. I’ve helped pass the resolution for the quota of Islamabad’s youth in jobs, along with a binding resolution for the construction of graveyard in the rural areas of the capital.
I have also worked for affectees of CDA’s land acquisition and their plight. I’ve visited people on a daily basis to solve their problems and visited IESCO, gas offices and police stations to fix problems of the residents. I’ve addressed issues relating to water and daily wages and tried to take a personal interest in the problems facing people and tried to play my role as much as I could.
Q: How has delimitation affected your constituency (NA-54)?
AU: Two-third of my previous constituency has stayed with me while the remaining portion has been given to NA-53. NA-54 has the same voters like erstwhile NA-48.
Q: The political culture of sub-continent involves the persona attendance on marriages and funerals. How did you fare on that front?
AU: If I had to make personal attendance on all such occasions in a constituency of one million people, even if I only did that and nothing else, I still wouldn’t have been able to make it on all the occasions.
Q: Back in 2014, there were misgivings from certain quarters that the local leadership of capital failed to shore up numbers and the sit-in was sustained by outsiders. What do you think?
AU: Absolutely wrong! The people of Islamabad have a special relationship with Imran Khan. If you only look at the 2014 sit-in, there were people everywhere.
The 126 days of dharna was sustained by people of Islamabad who used to come, sit and listen to the speeches given by leadership and there were zeal and zest in them. How in the world is it possible that the dharna was sustained by outsiders?
Q: A winning candidate is a combination of personal goodwill and party vote. First time around, you were a candidate of PTI and won primarily on the party vote. How do you see it has changed this time around?
AU: PTI undertook a research in all three constituencies of the capital. From NA-54, the PTI will get a lead of 10,000-18,000 votes if I am the candidate.
The people of Islamabad have given me immense love and support and according to the research, hopefully, they’ll cast their votes for me.
Q: The most pressing issue of Islamabad right now is of water. Kindly shed light on it.
AU: Everybody, whether rich or poor, living in an urban or rural area, suffers from the paucity of water in Islamabad. The basic issue is that the city has expanded in all directions. At this time, there is a shortage of 100 million gallons per day.
Three years back, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) gave approval for a project through which water was to be brought from Tarbela dam to Islamabad.
The local infrastructure of water is dysfunctional, water tankers are out of order, tube wells are out of order and the motors are burned. In old sectors, the water supply lines are dilapidated.