Amidst the hue and cry over the atrocities committed by the CDA against the poor and homeless, it is time to take a step back and reevaluate the whole situation. It is very easy to demonise the CDA, but the situation is what it is -- the CDA is just doing its job. It is lamentable and tragic, and watching it happen on live television was heart wrenching to say the least. But, this is not a fight against the poor, no matter how easy it is to portray it as such. The bigger issue, that many an earnest protester might have overlooked, is the issue of Afghan immigrants. Pakistan has housed millions from war torn Afghanistan, and continues to do so. With cities already marginalising the poor, the addition to their numbers has made the problem all the more severe, and has raised concerns for safety also. Yes, it could be said that only the safety of those living in gated communities is at stake, but that would be simplistic and facetious.

Pakistan is the largest host country for refugees in the world and this does not come without a price. Either the refugee pays with a hard life, trying to skirt the laws of the state, or the citizens pay, with sharing their jobs and properties with people who belong to a different country and paying taxes to support their welfare. Whether we agree or we disagree, support or condemn, the government is, in the end, doing its job. Yes, the way the government goes about its business is shocking, but in this case, the legal right is with the CDA and the issue of hidden illegal immigrants only gives more support to their side of the argument.

If this happens again, the protest and outcry will be much greater. The government has to make sure that it has safety nets and protections in place for the poor and that illegal immigrants and refugees are dealt with humanely. Addressing the migrant problem is complex and difficult; and as it is wont to do, the government often makes a mess of things when it takes a heavy handed approach. But to call it a war against the poor is unfair. Yes, the government has an appalling record holding the powerful accountable. Yes, the government has no plans to alleviate poverty. Yes, those evicted from the colony ought to have been rehoused before the land was reclaimed. But the same “witch hunt” could happen in any country, regardless of the humanitarian dimension. The government can, and must do better. Scaring citizens with the spectre of illegal aliens, to justify a job poorly done of handling the illegal settlements is not going to be enough to silence criticism.