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Drive stopped?

November 24, 2012

THE operation against encroachments has been stopped for unknown reasons [in Lahore] at least in densely populated areas. Data Gunj Bakhsh Town is a significant area in terms of business and commercial activities. … [T]he town already had crowded streets and thoroughfares before the launch of development plans, especially the Metro Rapid Bus Service project, made the situation worse. The district administration was vigorously carrying out the operation against encroachments.

… However, the operation lost its momentum gradually. Now people going to the district authorities with complaints of encroachments are told that the machinery for pulling down illegal structures is not available. Lahoris are justified in asking … how the machinery has gone missing. In fact, the machinery and the manpower are there but the operation has deliberately been suspended … Since the general elections are fast approaching, an indiscriminate operation [at this point] against encroachments may have been a risky move. Lack of follow-up after anti-encroachment operations has been the major factor that prompts re-emergence of illegal structures. The mushroom growth of encroachments a few days after every such operation has been routine. The message that encroachments would not be spared anymore can be conveyed [to the encroacher] only by pulling down illegal structures every time these re-emerge. It seems that the district administration is not in a position to do so right now, apparently because of political reasons. —(Nov 22)

Selected and translated by Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui.