Bilquis Edhi and Faisal Edhi, wife and son of social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi, addressed a press conference on Wednesday. The agenda of the conference was to highlight how land mafias are illegally taking over the land of Edhi foundation in towns and cities of Sindh and Balochistan. They urged the Sindh and Balochistan government to take action against these mafias before they forcefully vacate centres of the foundation.

The reason why these land mafias are grabbing the land is merely for setting up shops and indulging in commercial activities. And the only way they can do that conveniently is when they have the patronage of political parties. They even had the gall to take over land which the National Highway Authority (NHA) legally allotted to the foundation for setting up their centres.

It is the job of the provincial governments to look into such matters and ensure that illegal elements do not take over the service. Illegal practices cannot and should not take place under the eyes of the provincial governments. A centre in Hub (Balochistan) was recently taken over by land mafia. Same is the case with one of the oldest centres of the Edhi foundation in Thatta (Sindh). The centre was established in 1985.

Such information coming from the members of the Edhi family is an utter disrespect to the legacy of the greatest social worker of Pakistan. He established this system from scratch and invested several years of his life to this service. A person who was granted a state funeral and is remembered is golden terms across the world cannot be disregarded so soon after his demise – neither can his work. It is something which must be owned and efforts must be made for its continuation. The fact that the family had to address media outlets to bring the story to the forefront is a proof of how nonchalant governments have become in the matter.

Land ownership is the legal right granted by the constitution of Pakistan. To take that right away forcefully is a crime. Authorities must push the system to get out of its parochial approach and follow the modern laws of the state. The federal government already has a lot on its plate to be dealing with such matters. The protection that is required by the workers of the Edhi foundation must be guaranteed by the provincial governments. People carrying out causes as noble as this should not have to face threats from illegal elements in the society.

Authorities need to be vigilant in the matter and create accountability. It should have been them ensuring the smooth functioning of the foundation.