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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to clear the portion of Khayaban-i-Suharwardy in front of its headquarters in a week.

Hearing a petition against the encroachment on public land, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui observed that “neither any resolution has been passed by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Board nor any formal permission accorded” to allow the spy agency to block the main road for security purposes.

Senior Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mohammad Younus Khan conceded that due to security reasons the road as well as a 40 kanal greenbelt had been blocked.

A portion of Khayaban-i-Suharwardy was closed for security reasons, defence ministry official informs court

The spy agency closed the road a few years ago when terrorists were targeting important security installations.

According to the defence ministry official, there were enormous threats to the headquarters of the spy agency.

Therefore, a small portion of Khayaban-i-Suharwardy was closed and traffic diverted to Kashmir Highway as a part of preventive measures.

Justice Siddiqui remarked that there was no reason to block the public passage that too against the master as well as sector plans.

“If some security measures are required to be taken, the intelligence agency may take within its own territorial boundaries and not on the public place belonging to citizens.”

Even otherwise it is in the interest of the prestigious institution to remove the encroachment immediately, the court stated, adding the order should be executed “in a week till June 29, 2018, and in case order is executed by the enforcement directorate of CDA, same may infringe the reputation of the institution and bring a bad name to the country".

On March 14, the Supreme Court while taking notice of encroachments around two hotels had directed the CDA to submit a report on its anti-encroachment drives.

Main roads in the capital have been blocked by a number of institutions in the name of security. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has blocked Mauve Area in G-9/4. Residents also face difficulty using one of the pedestrian bridges on 9th Avenue.

Justice Siddiqui also directed the CDA to ensure that other parts of the city that had been encroached by other departments or agencies were cleared.

The court also directed the CDA to ensure that all media houses operating in residential areas moved out and stopped non-conforming use of premises failing which action may be initiated against them in accordance with the CDA law and regulations which include sealing and cancellation of the leases.

The CDA informed the court that contrary to the regulations related to non-conforming use, ARY, Bol and some other television channels were operating in residential units.

The court also directed the Bol TV management to shift its Islamabad bureau from the residential unit to some commercial space.

Counsel for Bol Raja Rizwan Abbasi argued that since shifting of the TV station was a laborious job, reasonable time may be granted to the management.

But Justice Siddiqui observed: “This is well within the knowledge of administration of Bol channel that non-conforming use is not permissible and no media house or studio can be established in the residential area.”

The order stated that the judgment passed by the court had already been upheld by the Supreme Court but the administration of TV channels had still failed to comply with it.

CDA legal adviser Kashif Ali Malik informed the court that notices had been served on the management of TV channels in 2015.

Justice Siddiqui ordered that in case the management of TV channels would not shift their operations from the residential areas, the “enforcement directorate of the CDA with the aid of the Islamabad Capital Territory administration and police shall execute the order passed by this court".

And in case of failure, “separate contempt of court proceedings shall be initiated against Bol channel for making false undertaking,” the order added.

The court summoned the CDA director (land) and adjourned further hearing to June 29.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018

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