The Supreme Court finally admonished the city administration regarding the hundreds of illegal billboards in the city of Karachi and the safety threat they pose to the citizens and ordered to remove them all within three days. During monsoon season every year, dozens of people lose their lives in accidents when billboards fail to withstand strong winds and rain and fall on pedestrians, posing a huge threat to the safety and lives to the people of Karachi. Apart from the obvious threat, they prove to be an eyesore, lining bridges and expressways, not only destroying the aesthetic beauty of the city but also are an unwelcome distraction while driving, causing road accidents.

Justice Amir Muslim Hani of the apex court conducted the hearing of illegal billboards and withholdings installed in the city. When he expressed his irritation on the billboards still present despite his orders for them to be removed, the administrator informed the court that this area fell in the jurisdiction of cantonment board and the local administration could not interfere in their affairs. This angered the Honourable Justice and rightly so.

No one is above the law and it is time that urban planning should be carried out under an efficient government owned body instead of multiple societies and cantonments, each governed by their own rules and regulations.

In the absence of a proper state role in urban planning, Karachi, much like other large cities of the country, has been left to private and informal sectors to use its land for business and investment as they please, causing an imbalance between low and high-density residential areas. This problem does not just extend to billboards, but to affordable housing, sanitation, waste management and protection of historic monuments. Pakistan is lagging behind in terms of formulating policy for urban planning and this should be regulated so the imbalance of power to certain parties can be restrained.