Written By: Fizza Qureshi | Secondary Check: Aadil Ayub
Claim: Jamaat-e-Islami supported residents along Gujjar and Orangi Nullahs in their fight against demolitions despite “mounting pressure.”
Fact: Jamaat-i-Islami initially supported the affectees, but backed down once the Anti-Encroachment Drive began
On 16 February, Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) appeared in an interview with Shehzad Ghias Shaikh on his Podcast, The Pakistan Experience.
When asked about the Jamaat-e-Islami’s role in resisting forced evictions along the Gujjar and Orangi Nullahs, he claimed that JI was the only mainstream political party that supported affectees, and stood in solidarity with them “despite mounting pressure”.
The JI organized two protests in support of demolition affectees in early 2021, one of which was held in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. However, beyond these two demonstrations, the JI’s political support for affectees of the demolitions in Gujjar & Orangi Nullah has been short-lived.
According to former Karachi Bachao Tehreek convener, Khurram Ali Nayyer, when the Anti-Encroachment operation began, JI rescinded its support allegedly because the Frontiers Works’ Organisation (FWO) and National Logistics Cell (NLC) were involved in Nullah widening project(s). The involvement of the FWO and NLC, both of whom have links to the Pakistani military, has kept most mainstream political actors from getting involved in this crisis.
Moreover, Maria Yaqoob, who is a member of the Gujjar Nullah Mutasireen Committee (GNMC) and an affectee, claims Hafiz Naeem is “blatantly lying” in the interview. “We tried to approach all major political parties when the [anti] encroachment operation was underway, but none of them helped us. We were expecting them [JI] to extend support, but they failed to do so.”
Abid Asghar, who is a former member of the Gujjar Nullah Mutasireen Committee as well, corroborates these claims. He said that Hafiz Naeem himself was quick to show support for the Nasla Tower issue around the same time (evidence of his support can be found here), but refused to pay a single visit to any of the abadis along the Gujjar Nullah. Furthermore, Asghar categorically claims that Hafiz Naeem did not get in touch with any of the residents affected by the Gujjar and Orangi Nullah demolitions.