Time for insaf welfare

Garm Chashma Diary
.. by Islamuddin

           There has been all round institutional deterioration in Pakistan. As hope against hope would have it people look up to the army and the judiciary to make a difference in the otherwise dismal situation. According to Hazrat Ali (RA) an infidel society dispensing justice may survive but not an unjust Muslim society. With the restoration of judiciary in 2008 hope was rekindled that henceforth justice would be dispensed by the liberated judiciary. The judicial activism that followed did create some optimism but now seen at hindsight it appears to have been geared to power play and not public justice. Judicial procedures are still so cumbersome and dilatory that securing justice especially in the lower judiciary remains a Herculean task. The problem is further compounded by the lawyer’s community which is bent upon hijacking the entire process. This lethal combination is working at cross purposes with the objective of ensuring a just society.

            In 2010 Chitral faced the worst floods of its history. Nullahs and riverbeds were heavily silted. Unless this debris is removed, deadlier floods are inevitable. Frantic pleas were made to the Government and its disaster management outfits to dredge the silted nullahs and riverbeds making them wide and deep enough to allow flood water to pass without overflow. As expected the Government did not respond to these out cries but NGOs like AKDN and SRSP positively responded to these pleas; carried out surveys and provided funds to secure most vulnerable areas from future floods. One such area is the 1000 long stretch of river Lotkuh from THQ hospital to Grain Godown. This riverbed had to be dredged to secure Government road, adjacent building on one side and three villages (Izh, Gajal Bala and Gajal Payeen) on the other side. Both AKPBS and SRSP funded the project to be executed by the Gajal Village Organization.

              Work on the project began in December 2016. By the time 30 % work had been completed one Ahmedyar Khan from Cheerwill village got it stayed to avenge his defeat in a court case where his attempts to illegally occupy the riverbed was challenged by the villagers of Gajal who contended that under KP Notification of 1975 riverbeds are state property. He lost all appeals and presently this case is pending in Peshawar High Court in revision. The honorable Chief Justice has ordered to dispose of the case at the earliest as a human rights case. It was to avenge for his loss that Ahmedyar chose to stay the project and allow the village to be flooded in view of the record snowfall of this year more devastating floods are likely. Fortunately the Civil Judge vacated the stay in a very short time but before work could be restarted another stay order from the Sessions Judge was obtained. Two months have elapsed but this stay order holds the ground. First the judge was away and now by changing lawyers Ahmedyar is abusing the process. New date to vacate the stay is set for April 26 and by that time the river would be in high floods due to melting of snow and donors would back out leaving the three villages at the mercy of floods. As a result more than 60 households face imminent displacement. The irony is that the law does not allow stay orders for a long time which would negate the element of justice at the end of the day and this is happening in most cases due to the negative role of lawyers. Politicians survive in official positions hiding behind stay orders and malicious litigants get scot free after damaging innocent public.

              Another example of official apathy is writ large on the Chitral-Garam Chashma road which waits to be flooded this summer. Funds are being wasted in futile repairs which do not last for a day. Instead of dredging the river course and allow peak flood water pass, alternate temporary routes are carved. Because of silting the river courses are completely chocked and riverbeds have been encroached. The Government which was supposed to regulate use of riverbeds cannot be seen anywhere. If this process is allowed to continue floods would freely flow into populated areas, the riverbeds having been fully chocked or encroached upon. I know this piece would also fall on deaf ears but it is my catharsis to give vent to my frustration at the official apathy. The title of this piece “Insaf Welfare” has been picked up from an NGO in Islamabad being run by Dr.Aslam Khaki who believes that justice also needs welfare. Without alert citizenry and public pressure justice would remain hostage in the hands of the mafias, powerful politicians and the rich who can afford good lawyers and buy justice. The people of Chitral especially of Lotkuh have to rise above personal interests and force their leaders to first restore the road infrastructure and carry out dredging of chocked nullahs and riverbeds to protect themselves from floods which would become endemic  given the fallouts of global warming. .. Islamuddin, Chitral 23 mar 2017

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