ISLAMABAD: Hearing a case regarding informal settlements across the country, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed the authorities concerned to share recommendations made by the Law and Justice Commission, including a ban on demolition of settlements without alternative housing arrangements, with provinces.The latter were directed to submit their responses on the recommendations in four weeks. On Wednesday, the bench received a report on informal settlements in Balochistan.As the hearing went under way, the chief justice noted that it was the government’s job to provide basic facilities in informal settlements. Justice Nisar also directed the additional attorney general to present recommendations regarding removing informal settlements in Islamabad. “You still have not given data regarding informal settlements in the capital,” he said.As the argument proceeded, he asked the additional attorney general to have Prime Minister Imran Khan set a time with him to visit informal settlements and see the conditions over there for himself. He also narrated his experience of a visit to such a settlement in Lahore, highlighting the poor state of sanitation by noting the presence of open drains over there. He urged the PM to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities by providing all necessary facilities to slum settlements. When the additional told the bench not to worry since the premier’s announcement of a five million housing project would tackle the issue, the CJP got irritated and responded that such a large number of houses could not be constructed only with an announcement, highlighting the urgency of the need to provide basic facilities in slums.He said various considerations are taken into account even while building a cage for pigeons. “Construction of the houses will take time. Five million houses have to be made not just your aunt’s house,” he told the additional attorney general in what appeared to be a rather condescending tone. “What has been done to fix the issue since 1996? How easy it is for them to say that change has come!”The CJP said that the official housing was frequently misused. “Retired officers do not vacate government houses.” Subsequently, the Sindh additional advocate general informed the bench that there are laws for informal settlements in the province. In response, Justice Nisar said, “Take me to the informal settlements in Sindh and the provincial chief minister has to accompany me or state that people living in informal settlements are ants or don’t have basic rights.”Published in Daily Times, September 11th 2018.