Pictures: Scenes during and after the demolitions. Children crying at the loss of their huts, women wailing and protesting, part of the slum after demolitions. A slum woman being dragged and thrown down from the roof of her family hut, by the Pakistani policewomen
The following article was published in the Pakistani English language newspaper on July 30, 2015. It is self-explanatory and contains a couple of videos showing policemen and policewomen demolishing the overcrowded tiny little miserable shacks, built of mud and whatever thousands of poor workers and their families could find-in a slum, called Afghan Basti, in the I-11 Area of Islamabad-on vacant public land. Afghan Basti has been there for decades and most of its inhabitants are reported to be Pakistani Pashtuns or Afghan refugees-many of whom are now legal residents of Pakistan-who started arriving there decades ago, as a result of US instigated wars and invasions of Afghanistan. They are parts of the victims of geopolitical and economic plans and actions of US and NATO imperialism and their Pakistani government and military clients. Pakistani government, military, and business elites siphoned off billions of dollars from the American and other western aid and military expenditures to their private wealth. The Pashtuns and Afghan refugees built these primitive dwellings with their own hard labor, in the vacant land near Islamabad, at the same time working for very low wages in menial jobs. Most men work in construction; in fruit and vegetable markets; cleaning the streets, buildings, and houses; as gardeners, plumbers, drivers etc. Women work for very little pay as domestic servants. Pakistani upper and middle classes take full advantage of their poverty and exploit them to the maximum, much more so than the Pakistani workers. Now, after demolishing their dwellings, the government and businesses plan to “develop” that area and build houses for the rich and shopping malls etc., which are extremely profitable for people who have accumulated great amounts of wealth through corruption, drugs and arms smuggling, and other nefarious means, and are able and eager to invest in such ventures. Estimates of their numbers at this particular slum vary between 8,000 and 20,000, innumerable small children among them.
Tens of thousands of other Pakistani workers are also living in the slums of Islamabad. The government has similar plans for demolition of their meager, primitive, overcrowded, and unsanitary dwellings, for the same purposes.
Land encroachments are common in Islamabad, as well as elsewhere in Pakistan. In Islamabad, such encroachments on state land have been made by government officials, politicians, commercial companies, housing societies, and high-ranking military officers, with complete impunity. No action has been taken against them. It is only the shacks of the poor, like in the Afghan Basti, which are ruthlessly destroyed by the government authorities and the police, demonstrating the extremist injustices and double standards of the rule of capitalist class in Pakistan.
The policemen, wearing western style uniforms and equipped with western weapons and teargas launchers, are confronting the natives, just like the colonialists did during their rule, and supervising the demolitions with huge western bulldozers, which also bury the few belongings people had, like pots and pans, wood burning cooking structures, made of mud and clay, blankets and sheets, clothing etc. These tens of thousands of human beings are being forced from sub-human existence to nothingness. That is what capitalism and feudalism (feudalism is still very much alive in Pakistan) do to people, turn them into demonic creatures that have no parallels in animals or other forms of life.
These actions are indubitably state terrorist and crimes against humanity. However, the international legal system is completely corrupt, classist, and racist. It functions in the service of capitalism and imperialism. Nothing can be expected from it. It is predictable that such state terrorism will produce a big reaction, in the form of new battalions of fighters against the state, for which the term “terrorists” is exclusively reserved and used, uniformly by all the states and their leaders. When such barbaric brutalities and injustices are inflicted on such large numbers of people, who have already suffered decades of wars and aggression, impoverishment, forced to live away from their native lands and homes as refugees, subjected to super-exploitation-as well as on severely exploited lower sections of the Pakistani working class-all living under sub-human conditions-even those being destroyed-what will be the consequences of all this, especially in view of the long history of resilience, tenacity, dignity and self-respect under adverse conditions, and fighting spirit against foreign invasions and injustices, of the Afghans and their Pashtun allies in Pakistan? Such actions will inflate the ongoing dialectic of state terrorism and terrorism, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and will eventually lead to the defeat and collapse of both states. Both countries are poor, inflicted with enormous economic, social, political, civil war, crime, and sectarian problems. The current state and government in Afghanistan are on the life-support system of US and NATO countries. The moment that system is removed, they will be dead. Pakistan is not in too much of a better position. How much longer can it afford to carry on its part in the so-called War on Terror? Is it not self-destructive to create new armies of terrorists by such actions, as well as the continuation of state terrorism against the populations of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)? It seems that the capitalist and feudal corruption, pollution, arrogance, westernization, and bureaucratization of the minds and souls of the Pakistani leaders and elites have reached such extreme levels that they are unable to see where their policies and actions are leading them and the country.
In one of the videos, Pakistani policewomen are forcibly removing the slum women who climbed on the roofs of their dwellings to protect them from demolitions. These Pakistani policewomen are definitely proving that they can equal any policeman in brutality and callousness, just like Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and so many other women have proven in this country that they can equal or surpass any American male in greed, moral and intellectual corruption, hypocrisy, conmanship, imperialism, genocides, plunders, and mass murders of vast numbers of people in the Third World countries.
Pakistani military has slaughtered thousands of people in FATA, created another million of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), thousands of refugees that fled to Afghanistan, during its operations since last year-in addition to the two million IDPs of previous operations-and destroyed innumerable houses and means of living, in the service of US and NATO imperialism and its plans for the region. The police and rangers have also been killing people almost everyday throughout the country. They are doing all that with total impunity and unaccountability, under the guise of the phony War on Terror and Draconian legislations. In one province, Balochistan-where people are struggling for independence or autonomy-civil war has been going on for a long time and there have been numerous reports of atrocities and disappearances of people, attributed to the security forces.
The brazen state terrorist aggression and intervention of Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Arab countries of the Middle East in the impoverished country of Yemen are also being carried out and made possible by the armaments sold to them by US and with its encouragement, directions, and coordination. Thousands of Yemenis have already been slaughtered by the non-stop bombings of Saudis and their Gulf allies. Among other things, the means of living are being destroyed and Yemenis are suffering hunger and all types of deprivations, as a result of this foreign aggression and intervention. The situation has deteriorated so much there that the dangers of famine are being forecast now.
It is obvious that most leaders in the Third World countries have started thinking and acting like those in the Advanced Capitalist-Imperialist Technocratic Civilization, even those who are still wearing the traditional dresses and maintaining traditional appearances, like the rulers of Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states. Such mass psychology of leaders in most of the world is leading the whole mankind to inevitable disasters of all types. This planet is already saturated with them. Some of the environmental disasters are already irreversible. Severe damages inflicted upon human nature remain unresearched, unknown, and totally ignored by the powers that be, as well as by almost all the humans. Within that context, overwhelming majority of people continue to function and contribute, uncritically, with their heads buried in the sand, as efficiently as they can, to the further development of this reality, under the overwhelming power and spell of the bond of all bonds, MONEY, which has become their real worldly God, regardless of which religion they claim to be the followers of. Money is also the worldly God of atheists. People think and act as if they are being good by carrying out their assigned duties efficiently within this evil and evilized reality. However, by doing that and not challenging or changing that reality, they are empowering it even more, and making it more and more evil and evilized, more and more unjust. Living as a complacent, productive, well-adjusted, and successful citizen in any unjust, evil, environment-destroying, and violent country or system makes one evil and unjust in one’s real essence, regardless of the persona and no matter what one believes oneself to be. No wonder an Italian writer (I forgot his name) had exclaimed, “When I collect all the money in the world, I will kill everybody and leave.”
Postscript August 3, 2015
A case has been filed in the Pakistan Supreme Court, on behalf of thousands of slum dwellers, made homeless by the government and police actions. However, it is highly unlikely that there will be any rectification, as those actions were conducted with the complicity and orders of Islamabad High Court.
Only activists of the small Awami Workers Party tried to assist the slum dwellers in their resistance to demolitions. Many of them, as well as numerous inhabitants, have been arrested under the draconian anti-terrorism act and and are going to be tried in the draconian anti-terrorist courts, for their minimal and ineffective resistance to demolitions of their shacks, without which thousands of people, including men, women, and children, have been now made homeless, with nowhere to live, cook, sleep, or satisfy any other basic human needs, which they were able to in their shacks, albeit minimally, in very sub-human forms. Now, the perpetrators of this most brutal state terrorism and inhumanity are charging many of the victims as terrorists, for trying ineffectively to prevent the demolitions of their shacks. It is reported that hundreds were also injured by the police. Where is the national and international conscience and law? These thousands of people are not on their radars because they are poor, hardworking members of the working class.
None of the major political parties or politicians did anything effective to assist the residents of Afghan Basti. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) raised the issue in parliament but nothing came of it. Imran Khan of PTI made some critical statements, but did nothing practical to help the victims in their ordeal. He is too busy in his new marriage and restoration of his and his party members’ seats in the parliament. Moreover, like almost all the other Pakistani politicians, he is inherently limited by his being part of and subservient to the rich and capitalist class in such matters, in spite of his hypocritical rhetoric to the contrary. He has surrounded himself with numerous rich (some super-rich) politicians in his party, which he runs as if it is his private property, and placed them in key positions. Many of them were previously associated with the mainstream conventional parties, with a history of corruption, cronyism, and mismanagement. And this fraud is claiming to bring Insaf (justice) and end of corruption in the country, if elected as the Prime Minister! After all his incredible trapezes over a long period of time, one would have hoped that his followers would see through him. However, let us not forget that we are talking about the Pakistani masses, which repeatedly fall for and elect their worst enemies to the highest offices. A few parties that have the programs of replacing the political power of capitalist and feudal classes with that of the working class, peasantry, and the poor, for, among other things, reducing and eliminating the monstrous inequalities and injustices of the Pakistani politico-economic system and society, are given no chance in the electoral processes. All the political parties in the politico-economic apparatus, whether in the government or opposition, are representatives of the capitalist and feudal classes, and are inherently the enemies and exploiters of the working class, peasantry, and the poor. Only fools and ignoramuses can expect any effective and organized action from them, on behalf of the poor, working class, or peasants, in situations like that of the Afghan Basti. Unfortunately, there is no dearth of such expectations in Pakistan, and the same or similar enemies and exploiters of the overwhelming majority of the people are repeatedly elected and placed in the highest positions of political and economic power.
Hassan Javid, a Pakistani academic, wrote an excellent article in the August 2, 2015 edition of Pakistani English language newspaper, “The Nation”. It can be read through the following link:
Article in the Pakistani English language newspaper, Dawn
Slum-dwellers clash with authorities over Islamabad anti-encroachment drive
Dawn.com | Irfan Haider — Updated about 17 hours ago
ISLAMABAD: A clash broke out in Islamabad’s Sector I-11 between slum-dwellers and Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials on Thursday as authorities backed by some 1,200 police personnel and rangers launched an anti-encroachment operation against informal settlements in the area.
All roads leading to Afghan Basti were blocked before the operation was launched to raze more than 800 illegal homes constructed in Sector I-11.
The operation was met with resistance from residents of the settlement. Television footage showed clashes occurring between authorities and residents as policemen and women dragged protesting residents away from the site.
Residents of the settlement were shown throwing stones at policemen who fought back, baton-charging the slum-dwellers and using teargas to disperse them.
Bulldozers demolished temporary homes in the settlement as policemen held onlookers back from disrupting the process.
Meanwhile, rights activists expressed dismay at the forced evictions, spurring debate on social media on whether the slum dwellers should be evicted in this manner without arrangement of alternative housing.
The hashtag #stopevictions has been trending on social-media website Twitter for the past few hours.
Earlier, fearing resistance from the katchi abadi residents, the CDA had delayed the operation which was to be held on Wednesday.
Also read: CDA backs off from operation to remove I-11 slum
The I-11 Katchi Abadi, according to a survey carried out by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2013, is home to 864 families and 8,000 people live there. During a visit to the slum on Wednesday, it was observed that in their negotiations with the CDA, residents were unwilling to settle for anything less than alternative land.
Earlier this week, an enforcement team of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) along with a large number of police personnel had failed to launch an operation to remove the I-11 slum after a seven-hour-long face-off with the dwellers.
The residents of the katchi abadi proved that they were organised, well-connected and had been tipped-off about the operation a day earlier. CDA officials seemed disappointed over the attitude of the police who did not seem interested in taking action against the dwellers.
On June 26, the CDA had submitted a four-phase plan to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for the removal of illegal slums.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddique had directed the CDA to remove the katchi abadi from I-11 where a new sector could not be developed due to the presence of the illegal settlers for over three decades.
Also read: ‘Action against illegal slums continuing’
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the I-11 Katchi Abadi housed 20,000 people. The estimate has now been updated to reflect findings of a recent UNHCR survey.
Pakistani policewomen forcibly removing slum women from the roofs of their dwellings, who had climbed there to protect them from demolitions
Bulldozers demolishing the slum dwellings