Because slums had no place in the city of elites

Hundreds of women and children stood mum watching as their mud-houses were turned into rubbles by bulldozers. Capital Development Authority (CDA) along with Police and Rangers today carried out the operation against the illegal slums in I-11 as per the decision of Islamabad High Court. 

The All Pakistan Kachi Abadi Alliance estimates that over 2,000 families live in the area which houses around 25,000 people.

While the local media today focused on painting them as ‘Afghan’ refugees illegally encroaching the area and the slum as a potential security risk – they were far more than that...

The slum was an unpleasant reminder of ‘real’ Pakistan - perturbing among the neatly planned green city with its wide clean roads and elite houses. It was a symbol of misery and a rock on our conscience.

It was a stark manifestation of our ethnic prejudices that allowed painting the IDPs from war-stricken areas as ‘foreigners.’ Prejudices that made it easier for us to shrug off the responsibility of rehabilitation of these oppressed and displaced people. Those who suffered from a war which was as much our business as it was theirs. In fact, in terms of its benefits, that war should have been more of our business than theirs.

It was our lack of conscience that let us watch the cruelty on our TV screens while those children and women, who have been doing our house chores for miserly wages, were made homeless - and had nowhere to go.

When asked about the operation, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) explained:

'In I-11 you have IDPs. The Afghan basti is not in I-11, it’s in I-12. Around 5,000 registered refugees are in that area. People often confuse the IDPS and Pakhtuns with the Afghans in the I/11 area, which is not correct.'

Who bothers to find out that actually many of these people hailed from not across the border but places like Charsadda, Mardan, Peshwar, Bajaur and Mohmand Agency and many other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Displaced during conflicts from their native places, they now stood homless again.

Why? Because they were potential security threats and 'criminals?'

Criminals who had nothing but stones to throw at government machineries in their defence, when it came to quashing them out of their homes?

It’s a shame, that ‘Pakistan’ today found no place in Islamabad - it's own beautiful capital.

1948 hours
Friday 31 July 2015

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