The development of Saidpur Village in line with a comprehensive plan has brought positive changes in the lives of the local people, who now no more feel alienated from the rest of the capital city.
The local people, who remained out-of-touch for decades from the fast-paced development in the capital city, are now more aware of the basic civic facilities like clean drinking water, sewerage system and carpeted roads.
Saidpur is a 400 to 500-year-old village, nestled in the Margalla Hills overlooking Islamabad, with a history and heritage, and of course, its own myths and folklore. Built along the slope of the hills and gradually creeping upwards, the village presents a picturesque view, particularly in the soft light of morning or afternoon sun. It was one of the prominent places in the region before the shifting of the capital from Karachi to Islamabad, after which thousands of villagers migrated to alternative places, provided by the government in Rawalpindi and other areas.
The adobe gate of the village built in Pueblo style, a green domed mosque, a gallery having old photographs of Islamabad and the ‘Zinda Pir’s bethak’ (sitting place of the living saint) in Saidpur Village show that Islamabad’s soul is not to be found in the city itself, but in its little villages and green hills.
“The distinct cultural identity of Saidpur has always been its pottery, due to which the place has been known as the potters’ village. Despite being located at a distance of a few miles from the Parliament House, the village remained unknown even to most of the residents of Islamabad,” said Raja Haroon Kiyani, a resident of the village and member of its 29-member welfare committee, formed by some 5,000 residents currently living in the village, not only to observe the development activities by the concerned departments but also to extend their maximum support for their proper execution.
Raja Haroon Kiyani said the village land was acquired by Capital Development Authority (CDA) in the late 70s and since then, there had been a continuous discussion about its development while preserving its natural character.
Former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari, who was believed to be the driving force behind the Saidpur project, had personally requested to arrange his farewell party at Saidpur Village with an aim to turn the attention of the local and foreign visitors towards the village.
“The visitors not only visit the newly built outlets but many of them also come to old shops and restaurants that help the owners earn more income as compared to the past,” Kiyani said adding that had the local youngsters been provided job opportunities at the newly built outlets in the village, it would have enabled them to benefit from the development plan.
“No one could think in the past that Saidpur Village, a marginalised area where no visible development project was initiated since the establishment of the capital city, would become one of the favourite recreational spots for local and foreign visitors,” said Raja Asad, another resident of the village.