Lawmakers condemn govt's 'bulldozer approach' against Islamabad slums

Published: July 31, 2015
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Residents watch as officials use a bulldozer to demolish illegal houses at a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS

Residents watch as officials use a bulldozer to demolish illegal houses at a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers condemned on Friday what they called the government’s “bulldozer approach” against capital city’s largest illegal slum – Afghan Basti in Sector I-11/1 — and demanded an inquiry into the clean-up operation.

Although the government’s spokesperson assured the lower house that an inquiry would be conducted into the incident and findings shared with the lawmakers, the ruling party’s lawmakers, including Speaker National Deputy Assembly Javed Murtaza Abbasi, insisted that the action was lawful.

Read: Three injured in clashes as authorities begin eviction drive in Islamabad

Abbasi, who was chairing the session, argued that qabza (encroachment) cannot be allowed in the name of human rights.

The Enforcement Directorate of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) said near 150 illegally-constructed houses were demolished using a fleet of bulldozers and other heavy machinery in the first phase of the operation on Thursday .

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s MNA Tahira Aurangzeb told the house that action has been taken against illegal occupants who possessed heavy ammunition and drug in their illegally built rooms.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) MNA Abdul Qahar called her out on this point, questioning why the police failed to recover the drugs?

Censuring the government over its ‘dual policy’, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari said the action was only being taken against the poor and homeless, while the government was reluctant to demolish encroachments by the elite of the city in posh sectors and agro farms.

Read: Speed bump: Slamming the brakes on the bulldozer

“A majority of these dwellers hail from militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and it is shameful that the government is calling them refugees, drug mafia, criminals and terrorists,” Jamaat-e-Isalmi (JI)’s Sahibzada Tariqullah said.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Sajid Ahmad backed the government’s stance and demanded that a similar operation be launched in Karachi’s Afghan bastis. He also pointed out that many Taliban leaders had been apprehended from these areas in the past.

As per reports, the administration had initially offered the slum dwellers an option to voluntarily vacate some 230 plots which were allotted to individuals some 25 years ago but were never handed over to their actual allottees due to the presence of squatters.

Upon refusal, however, police and civic agency officials took action and started the operation.

Meanwhile, slum dwellers rejected Inspector General of the Islamabad Police Tahir Alam Khan’s claim that they were asked to voluntarily leave the area three days ago, saying they did not have have enough time to remove valuables from their houses.

Read: Razed to ground: 25 illegally-built houses, shops along Budhni nullah demolished

In 1985, the government allowed nearly 400 Afghan refugees to settle along a seasonal stream passing through the area. With the passage of time, the slum grew, mostly through internally displaced persons from K-P and internal migrants from Punjab. A UNHCR survey, carried out in 2013, estimated that over 8,000 people live in the slum.

The Afghan Basti was previously cleared in 2005 after a massive eviction operation carried out by the CDA and the ICT Administration on court orders but it was back up and running by 2007.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Vectra
    Jul 31, 2015 - 7:26PM

    This is a deplorable act,no surprise such a unfortunate nation pakistan isRecommend

  • Point
    Jul 31, 2015 - 7:55PM

    Now PML-N downfall will start. This was the worse of humanity. Like if you do this to poor, Why do you arrest the corrupt. First send bulldozer to these corrupt politician houses and level their to ground and then tackle it via court. You people follow the lenghtiest procedure to safe a corrupt person but when it comes to a poor all you do is run over their houses. Curse on lawyers and judges who out of humanity could have fought at least a case for them. Recommend

  • Tahir
    Jul 31, 2015 - 7:58PM

    There is land mafia active in Islamabad. Who are the people who bring these people to Islamabad and then assure them that they will be given the land. This reminds me of early 80s when corrupt politicians assured occupants of govt residences that if they pay due share, govt residences will be alloted to them. This actually happened in CDA colony, corrupt govt servants and politicians alloted govt land worth billions to their friends and relatives. If Pakistan has to progress, all govt land alloted to anybody must be taken back by govt. This is land worth billions of dollars all over the country. Govt should be allowed only to rent govt land for 5 years,for its own duration and should not be allowed to distribute land free of cost to their relatives. PTI has done nothing to recover land worth billions distributed in KPK by corrupt previous governments.Recommend

  • Waseem
    Jul 31, 2015 - 8:04PM

    Good work by CDA and Islamabad Police. Don’t listen to so called “law makers” and get rid of all illegal settlements from CDA sectors ASAP.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jul 31, 2015 - 9:43PM

    Not a plm(n) supporter but this afghan basti need to be demolished. They are il-legally occupying people land here. Recommend

  • London Banker
    Jul 31, 2015 - 9:59PM

    These are indeed poor people but out of the 300-400 plots that these people have been sitting on – at least some belong to a person who had worked hard all their life to invest in this piece of land as savings or for their son or daughter. These people have been waiting for justice since 25 years. The main fault lies with the old stalwarts from PPP and PMLN who provide direct / indirect backing to land mafias. Recommend

  • OBSERVER
    Aug 1, 2015 - 12:30AM

    how can law maker criticize the CDA action…these plot were allotted to people ,waiting for the last 25 years after paying the full prize … ..Recommend

  • Confused
    Aug 1, 2015 - 12:58AM

    These law makers or law breakers. What are they exactly? Recommend

  • Mr. Honest
    Aug 1, 2015 - 1:27AM

    Good job by CDA and Courts. Any illegal construction in a slum or a posh sector should be dealt with accordingly.Recommend

  • salman
    Aug 1, 2015 - 2:58AM

    I am a PTI supporter and support this step taken by the Federal Govt. All such illegal slums should be destroyed across the country.Recommend

  • mak
    Aug 2, 2015 - 3:02AM

    I am an islamabad native and have no materiak interest in the area evacuated. Action supported 100% although I am not a pml-n supporter . Justice will be served once the rightful owners of the property are given back their property. As for the slum dwellers, it’s the government’s responsibility and duty to provide them appropriate accommodation. Recommend

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