Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has endorsed the concerns expressed by two key special rapporteurs of the United Nations over Orange Line Metro train in Lahore which has resulted in numerous forced evictions and threatens a large number of protected heritage sites and historical buildings in the city.
UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing Leilani Farha and UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune had echoed deep concern over the Metro train being pursued by the PML-N government in Lahore without taking into consideration the threats to the heritage and historic edifices of Lahore.
The UN rapporteurs pointed in a communique to the international media that “Lahore residents have been forced to vacate their homes and businesses with little to no notice, receiving in some areas only verbal information within days of demolition.”
They noted that the project passed through the historic centre of Lahore, threatening pre-partition buildings, minority places of worship, historic tombs and shrines and great gardens, many of which were registered protected heritage sites.
Bilawal said the PML-N government had not spared even the historic residence of great icon of democratic leader Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan despite knowing the importance of the place as centre of democratic movements. He also noted with grave concern the fact that the route of the project had been changed several times since its initial public hearing. “Many have contested the project and its procedural flaws and some cases taken to the courts are still pending,” Bilawal said.
The PPP chief said that the PPP won’t allow Nawaz Sharif to play havoc with history and heritage of the country and uproot poor people from abodes without any resettlement plan or compensation. He asked the government to halt the demolitions, saying the PPP would take up the issue at every forum including parliament to protect the poor threatened with displacements.