AWP organizes public meetings to unite residents of KatchiabadiesSeptember 1, 2013
Islamabad: Awami Workers Party (AWP) and local activists organized public meetings and demonstrations over the weekend at various Katchi abadis as part of efforts to organize and unite the residents of Katchiabadis in the twin cities.
A large public meeting and demonstration was held at Muslim Colony Bari Imam, which was attended by local activists and residents, AWP members, student activists of National Students Federation NSF, almost 50 residents of phatak colony H11, and several others from katchi abadis of I11, I9, F7, and other sectors. Meetings were held in some abadis of Rawalpindi.
Speaking at the demonstration in Muslim Colony, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar of AWP pointed out that the problem of housing was not simply an issue of legality or encroachment, but was a symptom of systemic oppressionwhich could only be remedied through the political struggles of the masses.
He criticized the opportunistic behavior of some of the ‘leaders’ of slums, who align themselves with mainstream political parties and cause unnecessary divisions. AWP plans to field candidates in the local elections that represent the people of the twin cities. Akhtar also called for a large people’s assembly in late September on issues of land ownership, land reforms and housing needs.
Local organizer Younas Awan Malik praised the efforts by AWP and All Pakistan Alliance for Katchi Abadi. Zaheer Shah, another local political worker, spoke about the long struggle of the Muslim colony residents and noted that they were equal citizens and the state was responsible for at least providing a roof above their heads.
Asghar Gujjar noted that plots given to some residents of registered abadis were not sufficient as there were several people missing from the survey lists, and three marla plotswere not sufficient for the needs of large extended household with multiple families. Ahsan Kamal of AWP mentioned that while there was plenty of land to be handed out to elites, bureaucrats, and military officers but there was none for the poor.
The propertied classes are building mansions in Bahria Towns, DHAs, Askari schemes, CDA schemes and the poor are ignored and prosecuted. H11’s Muzaffar Khan also spoke at the occasion.
Muslim colony is one of the largest and oldest katchiabadi of Islamabad, and has faced several attempts of eviction with CDA demolishing almost 700 houses in 2004. The size of various abadis of twin cities increased as IDPs of 2005 Earthquake, 2010 floods, and the military operations in Swat and tribal areas moved to the cities to escape violence and poverty. Given the large sizes of the various abadis in twin cities, they become influential during election season but for the vast majority there’s no permanent solution. But they are treating as lesser citizens and face constant threat of eviction, apart from water shortages, problems with Monsoon rains, and inadequate access to health and education.