The Supreme Court ordered clearance of illegal construction, especially on public lands, has also caused a stir in the Zardari camp.
President Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has summoned Sind chief minister Murad Ali Shah and Saeed Ghani the provincial minister of local bodies and Katchi Abadis (illegal townships) to discuss the situation.
Zardari starts the conversation, “To an extent this anti-encroachments drive is a blessing for us. First, the people are thinking that this is an initiative of Imran Khan. I heard that everyone in Karachi is cursing him. We should build on it.
“The important thing that I was to discuss with both of you today is the fact that there is need to adjust the evicted shopkeepers at alternate sites… naturally this will generate expenditures. I want you to make sure that nothing goes out without our due share.
“But I have my reservations which I will share as we proceed.
“I see Wasim Akhtar [mayor of Karachi] trying to cozy up to Imran Khan. What does he mean by saying that all past set-ups including ones dominated by his party did not serve the city well. Not only that he talked about the inadequate water supply, poor sewage system and the lack of adequate public transport.
“I heard that he even said that Imran’s PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf] government genuinely wants to improve the city and its physical and social infrastructure.
“I can see it, in this election, PTI grabbed 13 of Karachi’s 21 seats in the National Assembly, and Wasim’s just managed to win 4 seats.
“Murad, you have to send a strong signal that his party may be in coalition with Imran Khan in the federal government but he should know that Sindh belongs to me.
“”I tell you that this Imran Khan fever is not good. Tomorrow he might start saying that all those who allowed them in the first place to build these structures must be jailed. Already, I heard that he said illegal acquisition and trespassing couldn’t be condoned, and that we will have to live and work by the law.
“OK, fine, PTI may have won 13 seats, but they don’t understand the city enough to actualize their intentions.
“Sindh is ours. We cannot allow this moralizing to continue. What if tomorrow they ask can anyone get back the encroached land from Bilawal House?
“Murad… Saeed… can you see the consequences of the anti-encroachment drive? People will be reminded that an encroached property can come down anytime. And people will know the consequences of stealing public land.
“We have to ensure that such realization never not take place. This obedience of law is a mortal threat to our party.
“Murad if this allowed to happen then people will demand that all those KMC [Karachi Municipal Council] and KDA [Karachi Development Authority] officials should be identified who were collecting from affected business owners and they should be made to pay back all the money collected by them and more as punitive damages. This will be most unhealthy. Then which official will work with us?
“These anti-corruption, anti-encroachment, and anti-money laundering drives have dangerous portents. They will end up in the restoration of respect and fear of law.
“Murad… Saeed, it is of utmost importance that we should oppose this anti-encroachment drive because soon people will ask that this drive should be done across the board and the bulldozers should head towards the affluent areas as well… I mean your properties… and ours… Bilawal House …
“I know with all this NAB [National Accountability Bureau] thing… everyone is jealous that I gave momentary joy to so many with big bank accounts. We cannot allow the people to think that laws should be followed. We cannot create a mindset that rulers are not law unto themselves. Remember that the rule of law is a conspiracy against Bhuttoism.”
They raise their glasses in salute to their hyped-as-immortal leader.