The contention by the Defence Housing Authority Lahore in a case heard by a Supreme Court bench in the city, that roads built by it on land it owned were private and could not be used by ‘outsiders’ raises all kinds of questions. The case put before the court involved the blocking of a stretch of road by the DHA, preventing residents of another housing society from reaching it.

It is obvious that if all the housing societies in cities adopted a policy based along the same lines, we would have civic chaos. The court has reacted strongly to the DHA argument and asked how villagers living in certain settlements beyond the rapidly growing stretch of DHA territory can be expected to reach their houses if roads were blocked off. The court has also said that ‘no go’ areas of this kind cannot be created.

The matter is highly relevant. In the past, the DHA had for several days prevented students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences from reaching it. The advice by the bench headed by the CJ that agreement be reached with the other housing society to avoid opening up a whole host of problems makes good sense.

But it is interesting also to consider the mentality that has led to the creation of small domains of this kind. The development indicates an increasing tendency to safeguard only self-interest and disregard the interests, safety and well-being of other citizens. There are many examples of this in our society.

Developing the ability to think as a whole is essential to our collective future. The current case as such goes beyond the issue of roads, who owns them and who can use them, but extends to the question of what kind of society is evolving in our country and how the issues this raises can be solved.

Source: The News