The politics of sustainable urban enironmental management in Islamabad.
Sustainable urban environmental management is a process of improving the urban
environment and quality of life of all citizens. This means allocating urban resources
fairly, ensuring civil rights of citizenship and adequate housing, and guaranteeing
healthinessin the use of air or wateri n urban areas.T his, at least, is the principle.
Islamabad is a capital city that has concentrated power historically, geographically and
ideologically. The city was designed to promote the well-being of elite groups of
Pakistan in the post colonial period. Due to this powerful status Islamabad
appropriates an unequal share of resources and public wealth. This is the prestige
capital of a nation where the interests of the social and political elites are served by the
civil government, but where the well-being of those with no legal rights to settle are
not taken into account in the management of urban resources. This position is
maintained by a state-supported bureaucracy which manages urban development and
virtually controls the whole process of urban development.
In the wake of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, Pakistan and
Islamabad have both embarked on a new agenda of what is termed sustainable
environmentalm anagemente: quity in the distributiono f resources,e fficiency in the use
of resources, and a more participatory form of urban governance.
With the use of three case studies, on the allocation and pricing of water, on the
provision of low income housing, and on the interaction of urban management and civil
society groups, this research demonstrates that the sustainable urban environmental
managemento bjectivesa re being ignored or reinterpretedb y the urban managemenot f
Islamabad in favour of the politically supported elites, and in violation of the well-being
of the poor.
The conclusion of this research is that the radical and sustaining agenda of the post
UNCED era is likely to be compromised in Islamabad. The process of reform has
already been systematically delayed.