Islamabad - The Capital Development Authority’s strange rationale to get rid of the slums has surprised many, as the CDA has said in its report that Christian community may outnumber Muslims in Islamabad.

In its reply before the Supreme Court in katchi abadi (slum) case the CDA submitted: “…most of the katchi abadies are under the occupation of the Christian community who are shifted from Narowal, Sheikhupura, Shakargarh, Sialkot, Kasur, Sahiwal and Faisalabad and it seems this pace of occupation of land by Christian community may increase their population from Muslims in the [federal] capital.”

There are 10 recognised slums in Islamabad Capital Territory with 3,805 units. According to the figures of ministry of interior, around 120,000 people are living in the slums of the federal capital. Out of them 60,000 are Christians, while the total population of Islamabad is between 1.8 to 2 million.

The CDA whose mandate is to provide basic facilities to the residents of Islamabad, irrespective of faith and economic status, seems to treat them differently.

Bilal Hassan Manto, a Supreme Court lawyer said: “Wherefrom is the CDA drawing powers and the mandate to control and manage the religious demography of Islamabad? Who entrusted the responsibility to CDA to make Islamabad an exclusively Muslim city? Do minorities have no right to reside in Islamabad?”

He said the CDA’s reply shows the worst form of religious discrimination and clear violation of articles 15 and 25 of constitution. The article 15 talks about freedom to move, reside and settle in any part of Pakistan while article 25 ensures equality of all citizens before the Constitution of Pakistan.

When the federal capital was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad, the labour force from all over the country, particularly from the rural areas of Punjab, mostly Christian, came here in bulk to earn their livelihood.

Since the introduction of section 295C in the Pakistan Penal Code, the minorities have not been feeling themselves secure in the rural areas; therefore, they are moving towards cities, particularly Islamabad.

Julius Salik, former federal minister and a prominent Christian leader said the Chaudhries are very powerful in the villages and they could easily implicate the persons of a minority community in blasphemy cases. He said as Islamabad is an international city with vibrant media and human right groups, the cases of discrimination are highlighted.

The CDA report further said the slums distorted the picture of many sectors of the federal capital and they look like ugly villages whereas Islamabad is one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

Usama Khawar said the elite class sitting on the CDA board is more concerned about the beauty of Islamabad city rather than providing housing facilities to the poor who not only built this artificial city but are also providing crucial services in maintenance of this city.

Amar Rasheed, a lecturer and secretary Awami Workers Party, said the CDA’s reply is proof of the deeply bigoted mindset that prevails in the CDA with regard to working classes and minorities, whom they regard with utter contempt. He said: “The CDA seems to believe that its bureaucrats have some divine right over all land and resources in the federal capital and they can simply do as they please without any public participation or approval.”

Islamabad is the capital of this country and belongs to all of Pakistan’s citizens, not to the bureaucrats of the CDA, he said and added it is not slum dwellers but the elitist policies of the CDA that have prevented Islamabad from developing into a thriving and inclusive city like most other capitals in the world.