SC wants Karachi encroachments cleared within 15 days

 
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Lahore, Oct 27 (TNS): Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday granted 15 more days to city authorities to clear encroachments all over Karachi.

The CJP, who heard cases in the Supreme Court (SC) Karachi registry today, told Additional Inspector General (AIG) Ameer Sheikh — the city’s police chief — that since a court order to clear encroachments was already present, the authorities did not need anyone’s permission to launch a citywide operation.

The AIG assured the court that he was “ready to assist in whatever way [police] can”.

Karachi Mayor Waseem, while briefing the top judge on the anti-encroachment drive, claimed that the authorities had cleared “up to 70 per cent of the Empress Market”.

The chief justice, however, was not satisfied and said that the authorities must clear surrounding areas as well.

The mayor pointed out that many welfare organisations serve lunches and dinners to the poor and homeless on footpaths. “Should we clear them too?” he asked.

The CJP told the mayor to provide welfare organisations alternative locations where they could feed the poor. At this, Akhtar replied that he does not have the magisterial powers to do so.

Advocate Masroor, a senior lawyer, also directed the court’s attention to encroachments in the North Nazimabad area of Karachi, which, he said, had been “sold off” by MQM leaders Babar Ghauri and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

At this, the mayor said that “[to pursue] Babar Ghauri, we will have to go abroad”.

The court’s instructions come days after Karachi police resorted to using water cannons to disperse residents of Pakistan Quarters, who were protesting against ‘forced eviction’, that was in line with the apex court’s orders. Following the protest, the SC had extended the eviction deadline by two months.