RAWALPINDI, Aug 7: The All-Pakistan Alliance of Katchi Abadis and Awami Workers Party (AWP) have slammed the government for utter neglect of katchi abadis and other poor settlements that have been ravaged by flash flooding in recent rain.
“Not only has the new government demonstrated disregard for working people in the twin cities but it has directly attacked them in the form of a so-called ‘anti-encroachment’ drive that began some weeks ago and has continued through the fasting month,” the statement said.
Alliance representative Ahsan Kamal and AWP Rawalpindi general secretary Shehak Sattar have said that the PML-N’s previous stint in power also featured ruthless evictions of katchi abadis and rehri-walas and it is clear that the party’s attitude towards the urban poor has not changed at all in the decade and a half since.
The PML-N is of course not the only mainstream party that harbours contempt for the working class; successive governments have made no attempt to address long-standing issues facing katchi abadis built on natural drains (nullahs), which is why flooding is a perennial problem.
The Alliance and AWP leaders have said that more rain is forecast in the coming days, which is why it is essential to take preventive measures to ensure that there is no loss of life and minimum damage to poor people’s property.
They have pointed out that dozens of homes have already been washed away in I-11 and H-10 slums and since all the existing structures are made of mud there is great danger of more devastation in the event of further rain.
The Alliance and AWP leaders asserted that the annual tryst of katchi abadi dwellers with death and destruction will only end once the government develops a long-term plan to permanently house working-class residents of the city in consultation with katchi abadi residents.
Until such meaningful initiatives are undertaken, katchi abadis will continue to sprout up because there is no vision being demonstrated by either the mainstream parties or relevant government departments to address long-term planning issues.