KARACHI: “Zamzama Park was a gift to the residents of Defence by the Pakistan Army after they converted the place into a park from barracks,” said former civil servant Aslam Sanjrani, spokesman for the DHA residents gathered outside the park on Monday afternoon to share their unhappiness with the media over rumours about the army management handing over its charge to a theme park company.
“It is a public place now. So technically, we all own it. The army thinks they are the custodians of this park but we have not returned it to them. They will be doing a grave injustice to us by handing it over to someone who will turn it into a commercial venture,” he said.
The residents held up placards that read messages such as ‘Custodians, please don’t commit breach of trust’, ‘Please corps commander save environment, our request no commecialisation’ and ‘save families park’.
Some reminded the Supreme Court of Pakistan of its landmark judgements regarding Jinnah Park Islamabad and the Makro Habib case. In doing so they insisted they were not protesting but trying to send a soft message to the army that they are saddened by the news they have heard about their signing of a contract with the theme park company to give them control of their favourite park.
‘Custodians, please don’t commit breach of trust’
A female resident, meanwhile, diverted the media’s attention towards the shady old trees that the army has already pulled down from around the jogging track. “They were very old trees from the time when this place used to be barracks,” she said.
“It is the right of citizens to have a patch of green in the shape of a park near where they live. It will be hurting the environment if they give way to commercial construction here,” she added.
PPP leader Syed Najmi Alam also joined the unhappy residents. “From what we have seen of the theme park in Gulshan, they may also want to build a shopping centre on this land,” he said.
“It is such a misfortune that amenity plots and parks in our country become victims to China-cutting and the construction of marriage halls,” said well-known businessman Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, who was also there.
“I come to jog in this park. When I do I see children from katchi abadis coming here to play and enjoy the greenery and clean, fresh air. Parents come with their kids to relax after a busy day in the office. It is also a good thing that the current management has waived off the Rs20 ticket fee for children. Entry is also free in the morning,” he said.
“It is a decent place for decent people. It should not be turned into a business venture,” he added.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2018