Slum dwellers endure without Water, Gas and Electricity in the capital
By – Shamim Masih
ISLAMABAD: Christians around the world are all set to celebrate the joyous occasion of Christmas with religious zeal in the midst of the echoing of church bells that announce the birth of our Lord Christ Jesus. But slum dwellers of the capital will remain endure without water, Gas and Electricity during the freezing cold weather when the temperature falls down to freezing point. Islamabad, the city of elites and these elite enjoys a cosseted life waited on by maids, cooks and chauffeurs drawn from the ranks of the slum-dwellers. And slum dwellers are of the working class populations, who make this city run, the construction workers, the drivers, the cooks and many more are cleaners. Slums dwellers, largely populated by Christians and Afghan refugees usually live in or across the seasonal drainage in the capital, Islamabad.
The authorities in Islamabad had declared war on the slums, saying they are illegal and safe haven for militants. These localities were not built overnight. If it is illegal, why did Capital Development Authority – CDA officials not stop them when they started building? The officials reportedly take bribe to let the settlement stay. There is no gas, no electricity and no pure water for drinking provided by the authorities. Constitution of the country says every citizen is equal and has equal rights on all facilities available such as electricity, water, gas and other needs of life. Then why the residents of slums only, are deprived and have no access to these facilities of life.
Minorities are being forced to face injustice at each and every step of life. The climate of Islamabad has a typical version of humid subtropical climate, with five seasons: Winter, spring, summer, Rainy monsoon and autumn. Winter (Nov – Feb), the coolest month is December and January, with temperatures variable by location. In Islamabad, temperatures vary from cold to mild, routinely dropping below zero. In the hills there is sparse snowfall. During winter weather becomes quite chilly in December too.
The slum people have more right of housing as they are the employees of CDA. There is need of radical strategy to establish a cell in the slums to sort out and resolve their problems. Unfortunately Pakistan suffered by civil, judicial and military bureaucracy. Therefore issues of katchi abadies were not resolved in its true spirit and the non serious attitude of government delayed the active process of implementation. Even UN-Habitat which is dealing with slums has ensured the full support but has not done anything practical.
Persecution against Christian is often enacted under the guise of the blasphemy law as well as other instances of harassment and discrimination. Forced conversions, kidnappings, damage to areas of worship, sexual assault and targeted killings all come under the rubric of oppressive practices that minorities are routinely subjected to. Many incidents of religious incitement of varying magnitudes have been reported in several parts of the country. State authorities should play due role for change; and should take serious measures to establish peace and harmony in the society.