Encroachment of public spaces is common, rather rampant in Pakistan. Big cities are worst-hit from such illegal occupations. Let alone physical impediments, the general public faces great mental stress. A lot has been cried about in the mainstream that intrusion of these public spaces cannot be done alone without the support of ‘high ups’. Consequently, the citizens are provided with facilities like Complaint Cells to register their grievances and hold the authorities accountable.
Transparency International (TI), an international watchdog working on anti-corruption agenda around the globe, with its local chapter active in Pakistan, received a complaint on September 12, 2019 from a resident of Johar Town, Lahore about encroachment of a road by a retired police officer.
The complainant had erstwhile lodged similar complaints with the Provincial Chief Minister’s complaint cell, Lahore Development Authority, and Police Helpline against the illegal impasse of public road which has been blocked by fixing benches, placing pots and constructing a gate. Not only this, but the alleged officer, as per the complainant, threatened the nearby residents of serious consequences if any complaint was lodged against him. Despite several complaints, nothing has been done by the said authorities to remove those obstacles. The complainant reached out to TI- Pakistan through a written complaint with supporting evidences with a request to look into this matter to restore public access to the road.
In response, TI Pakistan submitted a written complaint vide Letter No. A1FPV3GS dated September 16, 2019 addressed to the Chief Minister of Punjab to look into the matter and requested him to take pertinent actions as per the law. Through concentrated efforts of TI Pakistan, the access to encroached public space was efficaciously restored after the involvement of relevant government departments. Subsequently, the complainant hailed the efforts of Transparency International-Pakistan for raising their voice for this critical issue, highlighting the matter for the concerned authorities henceforth, assisting in the restoration of the public road.
It has often been observed that public servants, who are responsible to ensure good governance and efficient public service delivery are themselves involved in violating the law. In the absence of strong accountability mechanism, such violations are inevitable by those in power. But at the same time, it must also be noted that the key to fight against such malpractices, vigilant and responsible citizens play an indispensable part. TI-Pakistan believes that the Rule of Law is the only way of eliminating corruption and safeguarding good governance in the country.