KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Wednesday ordered local authorities to continue the crackdown on illegal encroachments in the city.
The directive was made as Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard review petitions filed by a number of parties against SC’s previous directives to clear encroachments around Empress Market.
As a bench headed by the apex judge heard the case at SC’s Karachi registry, Waseem Akhtar, the mayor, and representatives from the federal and provincial governments submitted a report.
In the report, all stakeholders conveyed a consensus to continue with the anti-encroachment drive in the city which has invited criticism from members of civil society and progressive circles.
The court gave its stamp of approval on the matter and directed authorities to carry on with the anti-encroachment drive.
However, the top judge extended the deadline to vacate markets and houses on amenity plots from 15 to 45 days.
MAYOR PINS BLAME ON POLITICAL PARTIES:
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar claimed that six districts have been highlighted that the anti-encroachment operation will focus on.
He added that the crackdown will be carried out in a systematic manner open orders of the top court.
“Our plans have been submitted to the court for approval. Since the court has issued clear orders, we will carry out an operation against illegally built wedding halls and constructions on drains”.
He asserted that all institutions must bow before the apex court.
“The landgrabbers will not be allowed to return and reclaim land. We will make arrangements for those living on rent and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) is looking to prepare compensation packages for those that have suffered due to the drive,” he added.
The mayor also lodged an attack at opposition parties and questioned where were those Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) politicians who condemned the drive on national TV. He also criticised Muttahida Qaumi Movement- Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar for attacking himself and KMC.
He added that encroachments were only removed from Empress Market and Saddar and revealed that funds amounting to RS200 million have been requested from the Sindh government. SC has ordered the provincial government to release funds, he added.
Later, he again blamed political parties for the state of the city, adding that 90% of the land is encroached upon and katchi abadis have forced on 50 per cent.
“Politics aside, the city has been ruined. Everyone comes to the city and considers it justifiable to set businesses on footpaths,” he said questioning how long it would continue and stressing that Karachi needs to be “set right”.
TAJJIR ITTEHADÍS PLEA FOR ALTERNATE PLACES FOR AFFECTEES REJECTED
Moreover, the SC rejected the plea filed by Tajir Ittehadís president Hakeem Shah against demolishing illegal markets and seeking alternate places for affected people.
Shah stated before the court that their markets were being demolished, and they should be given alternate places.
The CJP lashed out at the Tajir Ittehad president and remarked that he had occupied land illegally and was now shamelessly demanding for an alternate place to set up the illegal markets.
“Could you attempt something like this in Washington, New York or London? You have no such right according to our point of view,” said the CJP.
The apex court judge concluded that going to KMC for a fair dealing after illegally occupying its land is outrageous.