THE Federal Cabinet, which met in Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair on Tuesday, directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to take across the board action against encroachments in Sector E-8 and E-9 of Islamabad and restore the green areas in the capital.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry, who briefed the media-men about proceedings of the Cabinet, however, did not explain as to what happened with the widely quoted proposal of handing over of the E-9 Sector to the civic body.
The directions of the cabinet come in the wake of large-scale destruction including loss of lives caused by flash floods in the two sectors, which raised many questions about presence of encroachments and illegal construction in different parts of the capital including private housing societies and inability of the CDA to enforce by-laws on the subject.
The instructions issued by the Prime Minister during the meeting reflect his desire to ensure rule of law at all costs as these are aimed at ensuring that the law is upheld by all including powerful institutions.
In fact, the menace of land grabbing has made life of the people, especially residents of the concerned localities, miserable and an-across-the-board action is warranted.
The problem is not confined to E-8 or E-9 as there are scores of examples of encroachments in the natural flow of nullahs and streams in different sectors of the capital as well as in the cooperative/private housing societies.
Action against all of them requires strong political resolve by the Government and strengthening of the enforcement wing of the CDA, which presently is unable to remove illegal encroachments from the busiest Khanna Interchange on a sustainable basis, resulting into numerous accidents.
The proposal to hand over the E-9 sector to CDA is devoid of merit and seems to have been mooted for reasons other than genuine justification.
Why burden CDA for wrong-doings of the private housing societies? Instead, things should be streamlined by proper monitoring of the activities of these societies and making them abide by the rules and regulations strictly with penalties for violations.
The Cabinet reportedly deferred a decision on a proposal for commercial use of the premises of the PM House for unexplained reasons.
This plan is also seriously flawed as this amounts to misuse of a prestigious and precious national asset just for the sake of political gimmicks.
There are several other purpose built buildings in the federal capital where exhibitions, conferences and cultural activities like the Convention Centre and Pak-China Centre that remain under-utilized.
Capital’s famous hotels also have auditoriums and halls for such programmes and they are well located to host events in a secure environment whereas entry into the PM House premises would have to be restricted because of security concerns.
It is time sanity prevails and the building is used for its original purpose, rather than wasting time on chalking out infeasible proposals at the cost of wear and tear of the costly infrastructure and facilities that exist there.
The cabinet once again invited the opposition to sit with the government to discuss important national issues, but said talks would not be held with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz and Altaf Hussain.
This is important but mere lip service to the cause of genuine talks would not serve any purpose and practical steps should be taken for the purpose.
The Government is advancing a strange argument that it would not hold dialogue with those who are not presently elected members of Parliament whereas it has announced a proper mechanism for holding talks with estranged Baloch nationalists.
Those who are dubbed as unelected lead powerful parties and it is quite obvious that they would not remain out of the loop of Parliament forever.
The Minister for Information has rightly pointed out that for continuation of democracy, the government and the opposition would have to agree on certain basic issues and electoral reforms were vital in this regard but the question arises who would make a practical beginning for the purpose.
Presently, the political environment for a dialogue is somewhat conducive but no one knows for how long it would remain so.