NOTHING better illustrates the prevalence of land mafias than media reports about land mafias, entirely separate and distinct, which are respectively operating in Islamabad and Lahore. In Islamabad, a land mafia has been reported in a judicial enquiry submitted to the Supreme Court, as taking over 29,650 kanals of land, including both private and state land. In Lahore, the vacation by the LDA of illegal occupation of 1100 kanals of state land allocated to the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences out of the 2200 kanals originally allocated to it, also begs the question of how much illegal land has been taken over. The judicial report on the Islamabad scam shows how servants of the state become employees of the land mafia as it takes over common lands known as shamlat, and kills off any opponents. The police allows itself to be used to register false cases against those resisting the mafia, and the revenue staff joins in with the mafia. The mafia is supposed to have taken over 13,296 kanals of shamlat land, besides 10,786 kanals of land owned by individuals, while getting 5568 kanals of state land transferred to private individuals through manipulated awards. The spreading of wildfire land speculation throughout society made it profitable for the land mafia to operate on such a large scale in the federal capital, among other places, involving some of the best established institutions of the country. Just to take an example, the Islamabad report mentions the major developer behind Bahria Town, as well as the Defence Housing Authority. Thus two of the three armed services are exposed along with one of the best known builders of the country. While the Lahore case appears to be happier, with illegally occupied land vacated, there has not been an exposure of such a scandal on the same scale as Islamabad. However, when there is unoccupied land, of which the UVAS land is an example, some land mafia or the other will take it over. That is the lesson of the Islamabad case, where the state authorities were so deeply involved that 7405 kanals in Sihala and Rawat villages were acquired through two separate decrees of the civil judge 1st class, Islamabad. The main lesson for governments, not just those affected (the federal government by the Islamabad case, the Punjab government by that in Lahore), must be vigilant over state lands as long as they are unoccupied, and as long as the growth of population makes it profitable for developers to take them over illegally. Governments, under the slogan of privatisation, seem to have got out of the business of providing housing to the masses. They must get back in, if the land mafias are to be excluded.