By Khalid Hashmani, McLean
On Friday (April 24, 2009), I attended an extremely informative presentation at the SAIS on the positive impact of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway on the surrounding rural villages of Punjab. I urge the Government of Sindh to construct a motorway connecting Karachi to Jacobabad to duplicate similar improvement around the villages of Sindh.
The presentation was made Ms. Mahvish Shami, who is currently pursuing PhD degree at the Development Studies Institute at London School of Economics. Incidentally, her village too is in the Hafizabad district of Punjab, where she conducted her study.
Mr. Shami’s work studied eight rural villages in the Hafizabad, four of them located close to access/exit points of motorway and four villages located about 10 kilometers away. Among the four villages in each category, two villages were dominated by a wadera family and two were egalitarian. In order to avoid the non-compliance factor associated with indicators such as schools or health centers, she studied two areas that impacted every one in the village – soling (paved streets) and drainage. Her study showed that villages located near the motorway had far more and better paved streets and drainage facilities than the villages located further away from the motorway. She also found that the villages that were egalitarian had achieved considerably more improvement than the ones that were dominated by a landlord family. Even in the landlord-dominated villages, the influence of landlord family had reduced from what was before the motorway and people showed a higher degree of empowerment.
Another inference of her study was that in the landlord dominated villages, villagers attracted far less government funding than the egalitarian villages as politicians were concerned with winning individual votes instead of dealing only with the dominant family.
The main take-away from this presentation was that building a major motorway through the Sindhi heartland would be highly beneficial in alleviating poverty and improving village facilities in rural villages of Sindh.
26 April, 2009