ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Saturday demolished some structures at a tennis club – named after slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto – located on Embassy Road, prompting a strong response from the PPP which claimed that the civic body violated the stay order of the court.

The civic agency claimed that as per the directions of the Islamabad High Court, construction could not be allowed in parks. The CDA said the tennis court was not “removed at all” and only a few structures built at the tennis court were removed by the civic body to facilitate residents. The CDA also cancelled the lease of the tennis court.

According to documents, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) Sports, Culture and Tourism Director Abeera Dilawar in an April 8 letter informed the secretary of the interior ministry’s staff welfare society that the “letter of April and May 2004 regarding the Tennis Court G-6 Community Ground were withdrawn/cancelled”.

According to another document dated April 19 this year, Civil Judge Humaira Afzal issued a stay order restraining the CDA from dispossessing the plaintiffs from the property till the next date of hearing on May 11.

PPP takes offence to move, terms it violation of court order

PPP stalwart Farhatullah Babar said the cancellation of the lease was “mischievous”. He said for the past decade, international and national tournaments were being organised at the club.

“Cancellation of the lease is…an attack on the institution named after Benazir Bhutto,” he claimed, adding that the CDA bulldozed the structures in the ground, alleging that the civic agency “tore” the stay order issued by the court.

“Initially a conspiracy was hatched to abolish the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and then the lease has been cancelled… [it]is an example of the bias and hate against the slain leader,” he said.

A CDA official on the condition of anonymity said it was unfortunate to involve the name of Benazir Bhutto in the episode.

“I don’t know if any court has issued a stay order but we have clear orders from the IHC that construction cannot be allowed in the parks. The fact is that there is a long green strip along Embassy Road on which there is a park named ‘Sukh Chayn’ and then there is a tennis court which has been fenced. The third part of the green belt is under the control of the CDA. We have just removed the fence and the tennis court is very much intact,” he claimed.

The decision was taken to provide the residents with ample walking space which was being hindered by the fence installed around the tennis court.

“We have just removed the fence and some of the structures/rooms which were being used by some people for ‘inappropriate’ activities,” he claimed.

The official claimed that an individual allegedly connected to the tennis court tried to damage the structure. “He wanted to give an impression that CDA has taken action against the tennis court which is not correct at all,” he said.

The CDA also shared a video in which it was claimed that only structures were removed during the operation and the tennis court was “very much intact”.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2024

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