We all must vividly recall the tragedy that struck Pakistan three years back on October 8th 2005 when a massive earthquake shook the life out of Pakistan. Images flashed across our screens moments later of devastation with hundreds dead and thousands injured, in those panic stricken days many visuals flashed across our screens but the collapsed towers of Margalla apartments probably shook the world more so, as this tragedy was attributed not entirely to the earthquake but instead claimed 72 previous lives as the builder deliberately had used faulty material in its construction
After struggling for over two years the family members of the 72 victims of the Margalla Towers were able to move the motion in the Supreme Court whereby the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry ordered the CDA and the original builder to compensate the victims, this order was given whilst the criminal proceedings still lingered on. Surprisingly on September 11th 2008 a month back the new Chief Justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar ordered the CDA, without taking into consultation the victims and their families, to finally release the controversial land back into the hands of the original builder
In all honesty this seems to be a very suspicious move, firstly its being done without taking into consideration the pending criminal case outstanding against the builder for this heinous crime, whilst more importantly this decision allows the builder to run scott free as the property and wealth can be immediately liquidated and hence forth the builder can then conveniently drag the case as long as he wants as then he will not be pressed for any financial concern.
Might I dare say this is just another prime example of injustice we can hope to get from such an ‘influenced’ system. I share with you the email sent by the family members of the victims of Margalla Towers including the order published by the Dogar court, though I also remain open to a better understanding of what this order entails and its ultimate impact in providing justice to the few victims that perished on 8th October 2005
As you are well aware on October 8th, 2005 as a result of corruption and negligence Margala Towers collapsed, leaving 72 people dead and over two hundred families homeless. Subsequently a case was filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of all the victims (Constitutional Petition No. 26 of 2005 Saad Mazhar etc vs. C.D.A. etc.) after nearly 2 years of struggling, the victims were compensated due to an historic, precedent setting judgment/order (October 3rd, 2007) by the former Chief Justice Chaudry Iftikhar who ordered the CDA to compensate the victims. During this process the Prime Minister created an Inspection Commission to evaluate the technical causes of the collapse. The final report was made confidential. The victims felt that a milestone had been achieved and an element of accountability had been introduced into the nation and its governance. As a nation we are still grappling with questions of social responsibility and social accountability.
However, last month on September 11th, 2008 an order (see attached file) was issued from the Supreme Court ordering the release of payment or compensation to Ramzan Khokar as well, the corrupt builder of Margala Towers whose innate corruption and negligence claimed 72 precious lives. As you will no doubt notice in the order, the victims were not even given the dignity of representation. Subsequently a review of the order was filed in the Supreme Court to ensure that Ramzan Khokar was not paid by default or inaction on the victims part.
Through this open email, we the victims hope to appeal to your conscience, your sense of decency and urge you to highlight this level of corruption that has crept back into all our lives, on any and all platforms known to you. Tell the local or international media, Journalists, lawyers, architects, engineers, developers, humanitarian agencies, family and friends etc. Tell them that you and I have drawn the line. This is where corruption must end. Even if it is just you and I left standing. Let this be our legacy.
If your conscience is moved by these few words we also encourage you to join us in lighting candles of hope on October 8th 2008 at Margala Towers to mark the 3rd year of the tragedy. Always remember, just by your mere presence you can make a difference. Be there and become part of a new voice of hope. – rising wave of conscience.
Margala Towers Victims
Court Decision of 11th September 2008 (PDF)