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Slamming the Slums

During the ongoing period when the ruling party is trying to save its representation in the National Assembly, under the garb of a report announced by the Judicial Commission, there are residents and citizens of Pakistan who have been made homeless by slamming the slums within the territory of the capital, Islamabad.

In compliance with the order dated 21st July, 2015 of the honorable Islamabad High Court, passed in a Writ Petition filed by the owners of plots (where illegal slums have been constructed), the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has devised a policy to eradicate illegal encroachments in certain areas of Islamabad Capital Territory. It is pertinent to mention that the honorable Court has given specific directions to CDA to remove the slums of now homeless people, and submit the compliance report in the Court, till 31st July. CDA’s spokesperson has informed the media that notices have been served to the residents of slums in consequence of the order of the honorable Court, and the operation of removing the encroachments is likely to be done with the help of rangers and other law enforcement agencies.

As has been reported by a local newspaper, there are at least 42 katchi abadis that exist in different areas of the city, consisting of around 84,591 individuals. It is important to point out that during the proceedings of the case before the honorable Court, a representative of the katchi abadis requested the Court to revisit its decision pertaining to the removal of these encroachments. However, the honorable bench was of the view that the representatives were neither a party to the petition, nor aggrieved by the order.

From a legal point of view, the honorable Court has rightly observed that the ‘representatives’ of katchi abadis were not party to the said petition. As such, they have no locus standi to speak before the Court in this regard. Furthermore, it was said that the representatives were also not aggrieved by the order. The Court further remarked that we are working with an aim to protect the rights of the people.

Let us get our facts straight. The case pertains to removal of illegal slums made by the homeless people on the land that remained vacant for years. There is no cavil on the point that the legal owners of that land do have absolute right in owning, using and disposing of that property under the Constitution. But the people who have encroached upon the said land have no place to live, and therefore they have made temporary houses on the abandoned land, although their actions are not justified by the law as such. The representatives of katchi abadis who were trying to present the view point of the residents of slums were told to shut up, since they were not the stake holders in the case. It is very right that they have no interest in the case, but the people who are being made homeless do have their standing in the matter.

In the Principles of Policy section of our Constitution (although not enforceable in a Court of law), it has been made specifically the duty of the State (under Article 38 (d)) to provide its people with “basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief”. Under the Constitution, it is the duty of the State to ensure life and liberty of every person residing in the country (under Article 9), and ‘life’ here means good life, at least with their basic necessities fulfilled.

To this end, it is the duty of us, the fellow citizens, who have the resources and time to stand up for these helpless and homeless people. Each one of us is answerable if one’s neighbor sleeps hungry. How could we sleep if our fellow citizens are without roofs? It is our responsibility to stand up for the rights of these individuals, who, from today onwards, would have no fire to cook food. It is our duty to stand, not against the State, but, with these people to claim their rights from the State.

Faiz Sahib says,

Ayyiye hath uthaen ham bhi

Ham jinhe rasm-e-dua yaad nahi,

Ham jinhe soz-e-mohabbat k siwa

Koi butt, koi khuda yaad nahi


Ayyein arz guzaaren ki nigar-e-hasti

Zeher-e-imrooz men shereeni-e-farda bhar de,

Wo jinhe tab-e-garaan baari-e-ayyam nahi

Unki palkon pe shab-o-roz ko halka kar de


Jinki aankhon ko subh-e-roz ka yaara bhi nahi

Unki raaton men koi shamma munawwar kar de,

Jin k qadmoon ko kisi raah ka sahara bhi nahi

Unki nazron pe koi raah ujaagar kar de


Jinke din pairivi-e-qazbo-o-riya hen unko

Himmat-e-kufar mile, jurrat-e-tehqeeq milay,

Jinke sir muntazir-e-teig-e-jafa hain unko,

Dast-e-Qatil ko Jhattak dene ki taufeeq milay


Ishq ka sarr-e-nihaan jaan-tapaan hy jis se

Aaj iqraar Karen or tapish mitt jaye,

Harf-e-haq dil me khatakta hy jo kaantay ki tarah

Aaj izhar Karen or khalish mitt jaye

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