‘Pakistan Govt. Puts Big Business Above People’

All around the world, the worst sufferers of Covid19 are the poor and disenfranchised, from migrant labor unable to feed their families to disenfranchised being thrown out of their homes.

All around the world, the worst sufferers of Covid19 are the poor and disenfranchised, from migrant labor unable to feed their families to disenfranchised being thrown out of their homes. In Pakistan, the government’s priorities appear to be big business and the clerics, not its own people.

Unlike its neighbors Pakistan took a long time to impose a semi-lockdown, the central government didn’t impose any nationwide lockdown and allowed provinces to do as they please. Interestingly, the government’s priorities were evident from Prime Minister Imran Khan and his advisors repeatedly emphasizing that if they shutdown the country the economy will suffer!

The lack of interest in public welfare combined with a desire to help vested business interests was witnessed when the government used the Covid pandemic to demolish homes of poor people in order to provide land for business interests.  

On April 16, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), razed more than 140 ‘Jhugis’ belonging to poor of the poorest in sector G-11 in Islamabad. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) immediately deplored the operation calling this “a cavalier approach to protecting the rights and welfare of vulnerable communities. It is likely that the rash of evictions that has occurred in the last two years – in many cases without adequate notice or compensation, and resettlement options – has encouraged local authorities to conduct such operations without considering the human cost.”

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