In late 2005, a meeting was called by the then commander V Corps, Lt Gen Syed Athar Ali Shah. Aside from a select group of officers in uniform who were present on the occasion, several officials from the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) had also been summoned.
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They included, among others, the then nazim Mustafa Kamal, municipal commissioner Lala Fazalur Rahman, as well as Bilal Manzar and Mazhar Khan of the katchi abadi and land departments.
According to a source present at the meeting, the CDGK officials were given a dressing-down because they were creating “problems” for the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Karachi, whose executive board is headed by the commander of the Karachi-based V Corps. “It was a typical case of the military authorities flexing their muscles to intimidate civilian officials,” said Adil Abbasi, former deputy director katchi abadi (planning) Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). The particular “problem” the military authorities wanted to address that day was the resistance that some KMC/CDGK officials had been putting up since 20 years against DHA Karachi’s demand to surrender land earmarked for the development of amenities for Qayyumabad — a katchi abadi situated along Korangi road near the KPT Flyover.Corrupt provincial government officials from the higher bureaucracy with vested interests of their own had colluded to issue a notification acceding to DHA’s demand several months ago on Feb 2, 2005. (The Sindh government’s machinations whereby they obliged the military authorities are detailed later in this story.)
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But some local government officials were still holding out, unwilling to hand over possession of land that had been allocated for Qayyumabad’s amenities, and this was what had evidently prompted DHA Karachi to bring in the big guns. The local elections in December last year, however, have spurred Qayyumabad residents to mount a fresh campaign to reclaim the land they say is rightfully theirs. Among them is Shamshad Khan, Qayyumabad union council’s newly elected UC nazim. Son of a veteran local politician, he and his father — as well as other residents of the area — have had run-ins with DHA officials in the past over the acres in contention, which is why DHA had never managed to actually take physical possession of the land. “On one occasion, I beat up [retired] Major Tatheer Abbas — a DHA official from its land department — when he’d arrived to knock down the graveyard wall,” said Mr Shamshad. “He ended up with 22 stitches.”