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WHEN the writ of the law appears to be enforced selectively while some wrongdoers ignore the Supreme Court’s verdicts with impunity, the sense of injustice is further reinforced. And this is precisely the case with the 15-storey Nasla Tower in Karachi, which has been ordered to be pulled down through a controlled blast within a week. But in doing so, there are legitimate safety concerns as the Sindh government admits it does not have the expertise to conduct an operation of this scale.
In June, a three-judge apex court bench had ordered demolition of a large part of Nasla Tower on the grounds that it had been built on encroached land meant for a service road. A review petition by the owners and builders was later rejected and the occupants were given a month to vacate the building. Regrettably, many residents’ dreams of having a home of their own will be buried underneath the debris of Nasla Tower.
Addressing the colossal land-use anomalies rampant all across Karachi — encroachments on amenity plots, unauthorized allocations, illegal construction, etc — is a commendable task. The prized real estate of Pakistan’s financial juggernaut has become a source of brazen racketeering for some years. Many government officials and crooked builders have shown a blithe disregard for regulatory laws and conspired to make ill-gotten money and rob state coffers of due revenue.
Nevertheless, the human travails that often result when trying to fix these wrongs can’t be ignored, many of which are decades old. This feature was also emphasized on Monday when the apex court bench expressed its annoyance at the Sindh government over its lack of progress in rehabilitating the thousands of families displaced in the wake of demolitions along the Gujjar, Orangi Town and Mehmoodabad nullahs. However, the Supreme Court did not treat the erring government officials responsible for the delay in payments to the victims of the encroachment drives with the same iron hand as it has the hapless residents of Nasla Tower.
Now that the law is set to implemented on the unfortunate Nasla Tower and its occupants, one waits if the apex court will also take to task the corrupt officials who allowed the construction of the building in the first place. And if this does not happen, this will further sharpen the general perception that in courts only man-made laws prevail, and not justice.