Saidpur Village: fusing the old and the new

Shabbir Hussain May 10, 2010

ISLAMABAD: In order to preserve the history, culture and natural beauty of an ancient village that dates back to 300 years, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) developed Saidpur into a model village.

The main aim of the project was to conserve the culture of the village, located in the suburbs of Islamabad, as well as turn it into a tourists spot. What captures ones’ eyes in Saidpur village, apart from the many restaurants, is the sight of three buildings standing closely together: a mandir, a church and a gurdwara.

The entrance to the village is through two gates made out of wood and mud– a clear attempt to strike a balance between the old and the new. “I love how the CDA has preserved the village and still brought a modern touch to it. My friends and I love to come here and have ice-cream, especially when the weather is nice,” Samar, a student, told The Express Tribune. CDA has also set up a pictures’ gallery inside the church, with pictures of the village’s and Islamabad’s history.

The building has been preserved and dim lights have been installed inside to make the pictures visible. “We want more places like this in the capital city. The villagers have been given a way to earn a livelihood and tourists have been given an opportunity to experience village life,” Ramzan Sajjid, CDA spokesperson, said.

“It’s just nice to see that there is a place, given the current political climate, where three very different religious buildings stand peacefully, next to each other,” Ahmad Raza, a businessman said. Some of the residents have been living in the village for the last 40 years. “I remember (the time when former) prime minister Benazir Bhutto visited our village with her mother and met all the villagers,” Lal Din, a clay potter, told The Express Tribune.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th,  2010.


mansoor | 12 years ago | Reply first of all i tell u every one.village is aqured by cda in 1967.all villagers got payments and plot against their they are all illagle to use the cda land.and more over is located in lap of margalah is national park,so nobody have to right to live in this village.even cda have not right to constrct any bulding in national park.
Nadir El Edroos | 12 years ago | Reply I have spoken to many villagers who have argued that with the development in the area land prices have sky rocketed, and developers have effectively priced them out of the market. They argued that previously, as the size of their families grew they would then develop adjacent plots of land to accomodate their growing family. That is no longer possible. When I asked why do they not complain when the media comes to the village they said that they put on a brave face, because if they complain the local restaurants etc would then hire people from outside the area. Effectively, the way the area was developed, offered little incentive for the local community to take ownership of the development. Any sort of resentment would mean that they would be unemployed and marginalized in their own community. And neither do they appreciate the stacks of condoms and empty bottles of alcahol that litter the shrubs around the area. Obviously, a village near an urban area is going to loose its rural infrastructure. When I spoke of the allocation of funds, I was pointing at how certain parts of the sums spent on developing saidpur could have been used in the other rural areas as part of the ICT. They are innumerable villages within Zone IV for example which yet have no access to basic facilities. My argument here is that Saidpur is hardly an example of a "model village". The interests of the urban elites were held paramount before the interests of the local community. The heavy traffic into and out of the village at the wee hours have changed the lifestyle of the local community. Once the restaurants are closed all the waste is dumped around the area. The villagers are more part of the attraction than inhabitants.
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