ISLAMABAD - At the time when city managers are demolishing kiosks from the green belts, the Federal Minister for Interior Ijaz Ahmed Shah has also stepped into the controversy, emerging as a supporter of kiosks.

Presiding over an anti-encroachments committee’s meeting, Shah said that all citizens must be facilitated at every level. He directed to identify areas in every sector for kiosks, minimum of one and maximum depending upon the requirement of the people.

According to sources, the Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) Amir Ali Ahmed presented the proposed locations for kiosks that included 12 urban and 7 rural locations.

Main areas identified for establishment of kiosks include Park Road near Rawal Dam Bridge, Park Road opposite Shahzad Town, Taramari Chowk, Bara Kahu Murree Road, Khanna Bridge, Chamber Road (Rawat), G-7/2 opposite Blue Area, G-7/3 Near Iqbal Hall, G-8/3 Blue Area near PIMS, G-9/2 opposite Markaz, I-9/1 near STP, F-10/3 Opposite Markaz and F-11/2 Opposite Markaz.

It was also proposed in the meeting that there would be uniform style for kiosk designs across the city. The committee unanimously agreed upon the identified sites while the execution plan of the proposal will be finalized in next meeting.

Though, the Federal Minister for Interior has jumped into the controversy but what he directed was not as easy as he envisioned because the issue of illegal kiosks in the city has a long history. There were a total of 235 kiosks across the city till 2011, which were licensed by the CDA time to time according to the needs. However, after that, around 250 more kiosks were allotted by then government of Pakistan People’s Party allegedly among its cronies.

The beneficiaries range from bureaucrats to politicians and journalists as well, who grabbed prime locations of the city against nominal fees and earning millions. The practice of giving licences to well-connected people was expected to increase day by day but then the Supreme Court formed a judicial commission to probe the irregularities in CDA which had declared the establishment of kiosks as illegal and had recommended their closure.

The CDA thus cancelled all the kiosks, but as usual, the city mangers remained under hibernation till the Federal Investigation Agency’s involvement in the matter, which had initiated an inquiry in this regards.

Resultantly, the city managers became active in the end of 2015 and in the beginning of 2016 when they started gigantic operation against illegal kiosks across the city.

At that time, the matter was taken up by Parliamentary bodies which barred the CDA from doing further operations. The issue of kiosks remained under discussion for a long period of time and ended up with the directions to regulate them.

In 2017, the same recommendations were placed before the house of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), which gave the approval for the regularisation of kiosks.

The Directorate of Municipal Administration had issued conditional offer letters the kiosks’ leaseholders but linked them with the approval of the planning wing of CDA.

However, the Planning Wing of the CDA had declined to allow such regularisation and considered it as a violation of the Master Plan of Islamabad and other relevant laws, resultantly the process could not attain finality.

Now, when the incumbent management has again started an operation against the kiosks, the owners went to the Islamabad High Court, which summoned Mayor of Islamabad Shaikh Ansar Aziz on Thursday.

The Mayor of Islamabad Shaikh Ansar Aziz has informed the court that the kiosks cannot be regularised and an operation was underway without any discrimination.

Meanwhile, the officers of the CDA and MCI are of the view that the directions issued by the interior minister would only make uncertainty and it will not help to resolve the issue but make it more complex.