Greed game

This whole issue has been mishandled by the successive governments

Editorial March 20, 2019

There is so much confusion and contradiction in the policies and actions of the federal and provincial governments, and nobody knows how they are going to resolve the issue of illegal or unauthorised occupations in federal government residences in Karachi. The issue came to light on October 4, 2018 when the Supreme Court ordered the Sindh police chief and the Sindh’s director-general of Pakistan Rangers to help the federal housing ministry and the Estate Office to retrieve illegally-occupied quarters in its colonies in Karachi. However, as a law and order situation developed during an anti-encroachment operation in Pakistan Quarters, the apex court, on a special request, held in abeyance its October 4 order allowing the federal and provincial governments to settle the issue through peaceful means.

This whole issue has been mishandled by the successive governments. The top court order seems to have activated many groups with obvious greed for these precious pieces of land scattered in the city’s prime localities. Developers are most likely to ensure that they have a say and stake in any policy or future action plan that the authorities would evolve regarding the status and fate of the federal residences.

In February, the Association of Builders and Developers had a meeting with the Sindh governor and reportedly expressed interest in developing commercial buildings over the illegally-occupied places. In the same month, the secretary of the federal housing ministry also held a meeting with the Sindh chief secretary and other officials to devise a plan to retrieve the illegally-occupied quarters and spaces in the colonies of Karachi.

Now according to a recent news report, the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) has jumped in to show that it has a stake in these colonies. No doubt the PWD is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the federal government building and quarters, but it is actually the Estate Office that deals with allotment and titles of the federal residences.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2019.

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