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Baseless Express Tribune Story Attempts To Absolve Bahria Town Of Crimes

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KARACHI: A report published in English newspaper Dawn recently said that hundreds of members of the Sindhi and Baloch communities living in Malir district of Karachi were forced out of their lands by Bahria Town, which in collaboration with the provincial government had taken possession of thousands of acres of land from people through intimidation and other illegal means.

The report showed that local landowners were targeted by Bahria Town Karachi and Sindh police in perfect coordination. The police, led by the infamous ex-SSP Rao Anwar, would carry out raids on villages and book residents under terrorism charges while being also intimidated by Bahria Town officials.

The registration forms of the illegally acquired lands were later sold off by property agents. Most of these lands are located in Malir and Jamshoro districts on the outskirts of the port city.

In May this year, the Supreme Court had found Bahria Town guilty of illegally grabbing thousands of acres of land in Malir. The apex court barred Bahria Town administration from occupying any more land but the order fell on deaf ears as construction activities have continued unabated in the area, as well in Jamshoro district.

Bahria Town continued its expansion in collusion with powerful political personalities of the province, especially those belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). And member of the provincial assembly (MPA) Sardar Malik Asad Sikander was one of the facilitators.

The report published in the English daily also stated that the land grabbing initiative by Bahria Town had given rise to other criminal activities such as illegal sand and gravel mining, which has destroyed the river bed of the remaining water sources in the area.

This activity is considered illegal according to the Sindh (Prohibition of Taking Minerals Including Reti (Sand) and Bajri from any Land) Act 2003.

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However, a report published in English daily Express Tribune on Saturday tried to rubbish Dawn’s report and came to Bahria Town’s defence by painting a rosy picture of development undertaken by powerful real estate developer. The suspicious report lacked a byline and was not backed by concrete sources/evidence.

The Tribune report, titled “Unsatiated greed of anti-development mafia”, read that though the Bahria Town issue was earlier settled by the SC, but on September 12 and 13 an English daily newspaper tried to revive old allegations against the mega developer in an attempt to resurrect controversies against the mega project which had ushered in a new era of huge economic development in the provincial metropolis.

The Express Tribune report also said that Dawn’s story comes at a time when the national economy is in dire straits and needs a strong development push. It further mentioned all achievements of Malik Riaz owned Bahria Group while negating all news reports that exposed the criminal activities of Riaz and company.

The Express Tribune report was heavily criticised on social media with experts terming it as being against the ethics of journalism.

Journalist Matiullah Jan termed the story as a “nameless” and “shameless” defence of the anti-people mafia.

Malik Riaz is one of the most powerful men in Pakistan and has been known for controlling media houses by distributing millions of rupees among journalists, anchors and TV hosts to censor critical news stories about him and Bahria Town. Many critical stories about Riaz have been blacked out from the media in the past as well and the practice continues to this day.

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