You belong to a distinguished family that has served the State for generations. Your father was a legend in the Pakistan Army. You acquired the best education and returned home to become a public servant, you represented your country in distant parts of the world and, after an impeccable career, you retired to the motherland, not with loads of wealth, either earned or unearned. Your wife had to go to work so that you could live a decent life. You still needed a roof over your head. So, with the proceeds of the sale of ancestral property and your wife’s savings, you decided to build a house for yourself. You found a person who sold you a piece of land with the understanding that you could build on it. You spent nearly two years building the home of your dreams. No official authority even suggested to you that this was not a residential area and there was a violation of rules. You spent another twelve years in your new home. You entertained distinguished people, including ambassadors and high officials. Nobody imagined that you were in violation of CDA rules. You suffered the personal tragedy of losing a teenage son. Your wife now devotes herself to working against drug addiction among our youth. You continue to live as a law-abiding citizen and a highly regarded member of society. Then, suddenly one day, the CDA decides that you are in violation of some zoning rules. The Supreme Court takes notice of this and orders that your home be demolished. You have not had the chance of going through the full procedure of lower forums with its opportunities for argument and appeal etc. Despite repeated pleas to the highest court, you are ordered to vacate your home in two months so that the bulldozers of the CDA can get to work. No questions are asked of the CDA why things were allowed to continue as normal for twelve long years before action was taken. A whole life has been ruined and an innocent, law-abiding family is to be thrown out on the street. Surely the lives of decent, law-abiding citizens should not be ruined because of some infractions, which were never questioned when they should have been. Surely it is necessary to consider the human consequences of such hard decisions. We can only rely on our judges to show understanding and compassion at a human level, while upholding the law. Good citizens should be rewarded, not punished One can understand that a violation of the law can be punished at any time, unless there is a law of limitations, but surely the law is sensitive enough to measure the human consequence against its literal application. Surely the law could take into consideration what benefits the public interest would gain as against the pain that ensues. For example, the Highest Court itself has remarked that the demolition of the illegally constructed flats near the Convention Center may not be the best solution. Surely, questions must first be asked of all parties that are involved in the affair. Another important question is whether this plot is to be put to some alternate use that benefits the public. If the purpose is to prevent pollution of Rawal Lake, there are other ways to prevent this. In fact, there are houses on the very shores of the lake which remain untouched. Surely the lives of decent, law-abiding citizens should not be ruined because of some infractions, which were never questioned when they should have been. Surely it is necessary to consider the human consequences of such hard decisions. We can only rely on our judges to show understanding and compassion at a human level, while upholding the law. Good citizens should be rewarded, not punished. The author is the former foreign secretary of Pakistan Published in Daily Times, October 27th 2018.