Babar Haq

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The courts should have been moved

My article published in PTI's journal "Insaf Ki Awaz" March 2014 issue.

We often see Islamabad being mentioned as one of the better planned capitals of the world. We, the residents of Islamabad, can testify to these mentions. Islamabad city is divided into several sectors and zones. Each sector has a central business hub of its own, commonly known as markaz (center). Being a new city, certain administration sections of the city were set up in temporary buildings. In 1980s, after F-8 markaz was developed the government decided to bring district courts there.

Initially this worked but as Islamabad's population boomed this place started looking like a fish market. A place designed to be an open and airy market could never be affectively used for courts/commissioner offices. The place started to shrink as lawyers start occupying open areas to build their chambers. In the current security situation in Pakistan, these courts became a nightmare. Hence there been multiple attacks on these courts.

The trader association of the markaz was the first group of people who asked for movement of these courts. This was obviously hurting their business. Early 2013 lawyers started occupying a public park near the markaz. This ended up in ugly tussle between trader associations and lawyers. CDA eventually took action and demolished all of the chambers being built in the park.

A building was being constructed in G-10 for these courts. However in 2007, newly formed Islambad High court was established there instead since its own building was not ready yet. In October 2013, former vice president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA), Chaudhary Muhammad Akram filed a petition in Islamabad high court for shifting of district courts from F-8 Markaz to the judicial complex in sector G-10. Like all cases in Pakistan its still under hearing. Media has also brought this issue into limelight multiple times.

After last terrorist attack on these courts on 3rd march 2014, incumbent government (PMLN) briefly talked about shifting of these courts. Sadly they announced that courts cannot be moved until Islamabad high court building is completed. Common sense suggests that Islamabad high court should be immediately moved to a temporary building to make space for f-8 courts. Instead government has decided to further fortify f-8 court premises ruining our capital's beauty.

Some offices in that markaz are not interested in moving the courts as this will raise their office rents. Sadly, they give more importance to personal interests over national ones. Our individualist approach worsens our problems. Residents of Islamabad have given a clear mandate to PTI in 2013 elections. They look towards them to pressurize the federal government to move these courts at the earliest.