The anti-encroachment drive has been in full swing since last month. Authorities have been tearing down encroachments which had existed for decades, and have cleared out Empress Market, Burns Road and Khori Garden. While the government has stated that illegal encroachments will be taken action against across the board, there has been a marked difference in the government’s attitude towards encroachments in poor areas and in the treatment doled out to encroachments in influential organisations.

Just on Monday, the caution exercised by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) when it went to retrieve encroached land in Bahria Enclave was in complete contrast with the casualty with which the KMC cleared out Burns Road. The CDA had moved its machinery and staff to Bahria Enclave to retrieve encroached state land but did not enter the main gate claiming the housing society had voluntarily agreed to remove the encroachment on its own. There is something to be said about the fact that the CDA conducted operations and removed a large number of encroachments alongside the main road leading to Bahria Enclave but could not start action against the properties built on the state land inside the enclave.

Now that the state has initiated the anti-encroachment drive, it must make sure that the drive is seen to be implemented equally and no citizen must be left feeling discriminated. Showing leniency to more influential organisations and allowing them to clear out the encroachments on their own does not seem fair when one considers the ruthlessness with which the government cleared out poorer areas.

Nevertheless, it is good that the government is responding to the criticism it received and is seen implementing the encroachment drive across the country- regardless of the method. The message is to deter further illegal encroachments- and CDA must drive the lesson home by ensuring that its orders are carried out.