University Town Peshawar, Paradise lost

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What goes around comes around is an old saying and a very true one; more so when one looks at the pathetic condition of University Town, the oldest and most posh area of Peshawar. 

The rampant corruption, which never seemed to hinder the royal lifestyle of the rich has finally, has finally started affecting the once peaceful and beautiful locality. 

University Town was basically established as a residential area for the big guns in the bureaucracy to make sure that they lived in as large and spacious houses with as vast lawns and space for as many servant quarters so that they, the Lot sahibs, could live in as much pomp and glory after retirement as they did when on jobs. 

Having said that, it nevertheless, was a model place to live in and walk around. It had spacious roads, which would be lit at night and you could loiter around without fear. 

In fact, it was a very romantic place even if one was not in love. You could drive on the roads without the fear of your car tire getting stuck in a pothole, or hitting a bump or passing on a large patch of broken road and leaving you in need of an orthopedic specialist correct the position of your vertebras after every drive. 

Such, however, is the case now. The corruption and apathy in all our government offices have finally caught up with University Town. People used to think that such a situation could not arise in this residential area for the elite. It is surprising that so many retired big guns in the bureaucracy live here with their children. The children have replaced their parents and are now the big guns in government offices. Then there are retired generals; of course, active generals have to live where they are stationed. Then there are houses belonging to federal and provincial ministers, MNAs, MPAs and Senators. But it seems the lowly officialdom has lost the fear of the high-ups and don’t give a hoot if the residential are of the big Kala Sahibs is in shambles. Currently the MNA from this Town is Arbab Alamgir and the MPA is Alamgir Khan Khalil. People had hoped that they would bring back this town to its previous grandeur but the dreams have not materialized. 

University Town has houses of ex-commissioners, former deputy commissioners, secretaries deputy secretaries, assistant and additional secretaries, IGs, DIGs etc. Most of them have their children on high positions in the current bureaucratic set up. But it seems they have lost influence with all the local government officials. Even a sweeper, seems, will not listen to them. 

There was a time when those responsible for the cleanliness and civic amenities of Peshawar City took special care that nothing was amiss in University Town, for a complaint in this regard from a retired DC or any retired bureaucrat who could be the father of some high official in the current bureaucracy, could cost one his or her job. 

But then corruption took over. The big guns retired or currently serving, it seems, don’t care if the roads in front of their houses are broken; if the garbage is littered on the roads and footpaths; if the roads are overtaken by encroaching shopkeepers; if the plastic bags are floating in the air and hitting the windshields of their cars. They don’t even care if the pressure of gas is low or that there are long hours of load shedding experienced by the residents of this town which was known for having every good thing aplenty. 

Even the rich businessmen who bought some of the huge plots from the retired bureaucrats and built houses here don’t care. Residents, it seems don’t care, what happens to their town. The elite of this town, it seems, no longer have the pride of living here. It doesn’t matter to them as long as they are earning money legally or illegally. Money is the name of the game. The quality of life which money should be able to buy is no more the major concern of the residents of this town. Amassing money has become the goal not the good things in life that it can buy. 

By Mansoor Ali Khan