The Lahore Development Authority (LDA), a body responsible for planned development in Lahore, has not amassed a great reputation for acting against land grabbing. Indeed, there are allegations that LDA officials turn a blind eye, and sometimes even facilitate land grabbers and mafia groups. These allegations of corruption prompted the Prime Minister Imran Khan in February asked the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to look into the issue.

Six months later, it seems that we may be seeing some of the accountability we were promised.

In a surprise move, the LDA has taken action against some of its own officials. On Saturday the body suspended its three officials from service for facilitating alleged land grabber Mansha Bamm and his son to enter the premises of one-window cell in violation of the orders of the senior officials. The LDA authorities suspended Assistant Director Zahid Aziz, Assistant Naeemullah and DG cell’s peon Qasim Abbas for helping Bamm and his son, Faisal, enter the LDA’s one window after the security officials stopped them at the entrance gate/door. Mansha Bam is a person allegedly running a large land grabbing ring in Johar Town and has occupied a huge chunk of land.

It is welcoming news to hear the LDA hold its own to account for assisting powerful land grabbers. Yet this accountability is only low-tier; it needs to be led forward and the culture of corruption that has prevailed in the institution needs to be weeded out. There is a lack of trust among the public when it comes to LDA; land leasing and property retail have become infamous for being full of scams and fraud, with little faith in the people that the government land development body will hold those culpable to account. Land grabbing and officials looking the other way in terms of taxation or the granting of permits only continues to happen because corrupt officials act with impunity or without fear of reprisal. The PM himself directed ACE not to fear from going after “big fish”; this sort of strategy must also be dealt with carefully so as to ensure that the accountability process remains one of accountability, not political victimisation. However, it is clear that action needs to be taken; in the intense, violent field of property dealing, a confrontational fearless approach may be the only thing that works.