Scourge of land mafia in Pakistan

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Malik Tariq Ali
Pakistan’s peace and tranquility has been eroded by unchecked weaponisation, land mafia, drugs and abuse of power by individuals and institutions. The dominance of political and religious parties by these elements along with a weak judiciary and failure of the state and its institutions to eradicate this scourge today threatens our national security. Our major urban centres like Karachi have been subjected to turf control battles, while Swat, Balochistan and the Tribal belt suffer turmoil. Insurgency and rebellion breeds on deprivation, injustices, exploitation and discrimination. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted to create a welfare state for the Muslims, instead it has become a country riddled with ethnic strife, rising street crimes and insurgencies by misguided religious bigots like Maulvi Fazlullah or through the sense of deprivation in Balochistan, because the state has failed to cater to its primary functions of welfare of the most deprived sections of our society. Pakistan’s security is today threatened from within by self-seeking adventurers, with their insatiable greed to acquire wealth, irrespective of its cost to our national security. Our state institutions must be confined to work in accordance with their defined roles laid down in the constitution. Most of the benefactors of this loot and plunder consider Pakistan only worthy of being a transit stopover, having sought immigration in other countries and moved their assets to so-called safer havens.
From the time of our inception as an independent country in 1947, we have been a victim of this cancerous scourge of illegal land grabbing, a product of the huge evacuee property left behind by the massive immigration of affluent Hindu and Sikh minority in the areas that comprise Pakistan. It is also a fact that but for few individual cases, the vast majority of Muslims in undivided India were economically deprived, which was a major factor that motivated our founding fathers to seek for the Muslims a separate homeland, where they could live in peace with dignity and basic human rights for themselves and other minorities. The massive pilferage of Evacuee Property by falsified claims gave rise to a new breed of neo rich families and with that came political power and the need to seek dominance. Unfortunately this gave rise to powerful groups with political power, who had contempt for rule of law, and even after over 60 years do not feel any wrong in occupying state and private lands through connivance, or through intimidation of widows and other lesser powerful members of our society. So powerfully entrenched are the benefactors of this land mafia that it is no longer considered a crime, nor is it considered to be theft, since hardly anybody of significance, has ever been held accountable before the law. There have been no social taboos against the land mafia. The cause for this scourge to spread unchecked is a weak judiciary and an executive dominated by greed and corruption. Today it is has been institutionalised, with powerful members of the establishment having joined the bandwagon.

This unchecked scourge which afflicted our rural centres, today has assumed an alarming threat in our major urban centres like Karachi, Lahore, adjoining areas of Islamabad and other cities and towns. In Karachi public utility parks are up for grabs by the land mafia, because of the failure of the citizens to protect their rights through coordinated efforts, having been divided on ethnic and sectarian divides. Be it the illegal grab of land in Islamabad by the Lal Masjid mullahs, or the occupation of Karachi’s Kidney Hill, or Lahore’s Doongi Ground or the forceful occupation of land belonging to Haris in Sindh, the state and the superior judiciary must discharge their obligations to protect private and public land, irrespective of the political affiliations of these criminals. If Madoff can face prosecution and possible life sentence and freeze of all his assets for robbing the public in USA, why cannot we do likewise in Pakistan and hold all these criminals accountable for their crimes.

Source: The Nation, 9th May, 2009


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