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ISLAMABAD: Days after ordering a drive against encroachments in the capital, Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a special committee to address the issues of those who had become homeless or jobless due to the campaign.

The prime minister on Friday formed a committee consisting of the same political aides who had supervised the anti-encroachment drive, including the demolition of houses of low-income families.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the special committee consists of Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi as its chairman, Health Minister Amir Mehmood Kiani and MNAs Raja Khurram and Ali Nawaz Awan.

“The committee has been formed to find solution of problems confronting people of Islamabad in general and address the issues that arose due to razing of encroachments in particular,” a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday said.

The committee will review decisions taken by the Capital Development Authority and will make guidelines in light of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the removal of illegal constructions in the city.

The press release said that under the directives of the prime minister, the committee will ensure that no low-income families including small shop owners, labourers and daily-wage workers are affected by the anti-encroachment drive.

The prime minister has also directed that action should only be taken against land-grabbers who have been illegally occupying state land for years.

Anti-encroachment operations are being conducted simultaneously in three major cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi where hundreds of people have been made homeless and jobless due to the demolition of their homes and shops.

In Islamabad, State Minister Shehryar Afridi claimed that over 50,000 kanals of state land was retrieved in various areas including on the right of way of the Kashmir Highway, Bahria Enclave and Blue Area near Centaurus Mall among others.

He claimed that a plot worth up to Rs9 billion had also been forcibly vacated by the government.

The minister had said the government will assist and facilitate the federating units in fighting the menace of land grabbing.

A few days ago, Prime Minister Imran Khan said some elements were conducting a propaganda against the drive by showing crying women and children on TV next to their demolished homes.

He said he had not ordered the authorities concerned to raze down the houses of low-income families and that the anti-encroachment operation is being conducted against what he called the “land mafia”.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018