RAWALPINDI: Over a year after the election process for local government started, Sardar Naseem of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) finally took oath as Rawalpindi’s new mayor on Saturday.
Rawal Town Administrator Nazia Perveen Sudhan administered the oath of office to Naseem and Deputy Mayor Chaudhry Tariq Mahmood at Rawalpindi Arts Council.
Talking to the media after taking oath, Naseem thanked Rawalpindi’s residents for voting him into the hot seat. He added that he had the full backing of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan along with that of other PML-N leaders in the city.
The Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC)chief said that the issue of encroachments, parking and traffic jams would be at the top of his agenda and vowed to eliminate encroachments across the length and breadth of the city. He added that additional development projects would be launched in the city to facilitate the residents.
After administering the oath, Sudhan said that now it was the responsibility of the newly elected mayor and deputy mayor to serve the people. Naseem had been elected as Rawalpindi’s mayor unopposed after the PML-N won 40 out of the 46 union councils of the city in the local government elections on December 5, 2015. The PML-N subsequently won all the 28 reserved seats for the RMC.
Moreover, unlike in certain areas, there was no major opposition within the party towards Naseem’s nomination as the mayor.
Sajjad Khan, an early contender for the mayor’s seat, attended Saturday’s oath taking ceremony. Sheikh Arsalan, who had tried to lobby for himself as the mayor, though, was conspicuous for his absence on Saturday morning.
A sizeable number of local PML-N heavyweights and parliamentarians attended Saturdays’ ceremony lending credence to Naseem’s claim of having his party’s complete backing. Former MNA and a prominent local PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, MNA Malik Abrar Ahmed, MPA Raja Hanif, Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, Senator Najma Hameed, MPA Tehseen Fawad DCO Talat Mehmood Gondal, CPO Israr Ahmed Khan Abbasi and other party members were present.
While Naseem highlighted the priorities for the RMC, the newly elected mayor will likely run into multiple challenges in the city.
Encroachment, as identified by the mayor himself, is one of the major issues, especially in and around Raja Bazaar. The issue is particularly complex least because the matter has been pending before the Lahore High Court.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2017.
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