Islamabad: The All-Pakistan Alliance of Katchi Abadis and Awami Workers Party (AWP) have warned that protest movement that brought thousands of katchi abadi dwellers on streets of federal capital on October 3 would be relaunched with immediate effect if the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and ICT administration continued to treat slum dwellers with disdain.
A delegation of the Alliance had been scheduled to meet with the CDA chairman Nadeem Asif on Tuesday morning only to be told at the last minute that chairman would not be available due to ‘unavoidable circumstances’.
The delegation subsequently met the Member Planning Waseem Ahmad Khan but demanded that the CDA chairman make time in his schedule for a constituency that makes up at least 20% of Islamabad’s population otherwise another rally culminating in the CDA chairman’s office would be organized by the Alliance.
Alliance chairperson and AWP secretary-general Aasim Sajjad said that katchi abadi residents are still treated like second-class citizens by the bureaucracy because the latter believes that it is answerable only to the rich and powerful.
He said that this attitude has persisted over the years even though the CDA was forced in 1995 to create a Katchi Abadi cell that acknowledged the existence and rights of katchi abadi dwellers.
Aasim Sajjad pointed out that the Alliance has been attempting to secure a meeting with the CDA chairman since the latter took his office approximately three months ago but there has been no will demonstrated by Islamabad’s top officer to engage with the city’s poor.
AWP activists Ahsan Kamal and Amna Mawaz said that the anti-poor attitude of the city’s high-ups is evident also from the regular spate of statements declaring all residents of katchi abadis ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals’. They said that, to the contrary, katchi abadis house the vast majority of the capital’s working class and if these thousands of workers simply refused to perform their duties for a single day, the entire bureaucracy put together would neither be able to keep the city clear nor functioning.
The Alliance and AWP also condemned the attitude of mainstream political parties which have furiously been making contacts in various katchi abadis in preparation for upcoming local body elections but take no interest in addressing the long-standing issues of permanent shelter and public utility provision in the settlements.
Alliance office-bearers have said that unlike the past, in the upcoming elections they will stand
for elections on their own party platform and will not allow opportunists to take advantage of them.