x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Election looms for Pakistan community group

New leaders will be faced with major challenges, such as finding a solution to the shortfall in funding for a new community hall.

Left to right: Rizwan Fancy, the Pakistan Association of Dubai's community welfare secretary, Muhammad Azeem, the vice president, and Muhammad Tarik Awan, the public relations secretary, at the site of the group's new hall in Dubai.
Left to right: Rizwan Fancy, the Pakistan Association of Dubai's community welfare secretary, Muhammad Azeem, the vice president, and Muhammad Tarik Awan, the public relations secretary, at the site of the group's new hall in Dubai.

DUBAI // When the leaders of the Pakistan Association of Dubai convene next month, the new faces among them will have to confront the challenge of reviving the stalled community hall project.

Come election time, provisionally expected to take place at the end of May, four of the 12 officers - including president Riaz Farooq Sahi - will have to stand down from their posts, having completed the maximum of two two-year terms.

Their successors will have major issues to grapple with, such as finding a solution to the shortfall in funding for its new hall.

According to Mr Sahi, the after-effects of the global downturn are likely to continue to make that difficult.

"There is no question that many members of the Pakistani community in Dubai have been affected financially by what has been happening around the world," he said.

"But that is a challenge that must be met because it is vital that we complete the multipurpose hall and at the same time maintain a healthy and active range of cultural and welfare events and services."

Work on the hall in Bur Dubai has stopped because the association is Dh4m short of the Dh6.3m it needs to complete construction.

The downturn has caused real hardship for many of Dubai's 400,000 Pakistanis, leading to a huge jump in the association's welfare budget, from Dh100,000 in 2007 to Dh2m last year.

However, Rizwan Fancy, the association's community welfare officer, agreed that the hall should be the incoming committee's top priority.

"This is something that the Pakistani community has been needing for 18 years and I appeal to the Pakistani community to help us in our efforts."

The association's constitution requires elections to be held every two years. Any member aged 30 or older can stand, with a non-refundable deposit of Dh4,000 for the posts of president, vice-president and general secretary. For all other offices Dh2,000 is required.

Polling of the association's 3,000 members will last a day, and the results of the secret ballot will be announced as soon as the votes are counted.

Among those stepping down is Inayat ur-Rahman, who has served on the committee for nine years.

"I want to spend more time with my family and take care of my business," he said. "I have served with the association for almost ten years now and I think it's the right time to step down."

Muhammad Azeem, the vice-president and head of the hall project, says he is in two minds about standing again.

"I haven't decided yet," he said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the PAD and helping to bring the new hall off the drawing board and into reality."

nhanif@thenational.ae