KARACHI: The maxim “United We Win” was explicitly
demonstrated at the session organized by chemical pollution affectees
of SITE Town, environmentalists, lawyers, journalists and activists to
celebrate their judicial victory against violators of environmental
The celebration at PMA House on Friday evening was simple but
impressive bolstering the otherwise mundane spirits of daily wage
earners and contract workers as they acknowledged support extended to
them by fellow citizens of Karachi against the wrong done to their
“We can forgive but can not forget and therefore do not want
recurrence of such instances in any part of Karachi, said father of
eight year old deceased Iftikhar, a victim of chemical burn.
Gul Khan, the van driver had rightly hit the bolt as citizens and
stake holders gathered, under the banner of Society for Safe and
Healthy Environment were not merely contended that victims clinched
justice through the land mark Sindh High Court decision.
“We citizens have been provided with a strong basis to counter
polluters, be it in any form, can stop them at the very onset and get
them penalized too,” commented the lawyer Faisal Siddiqui who took up
the case pro bono.
Harris Gazdar, the activist minced no words that harm done to
children and their parents could never be compensated, as they
suffered loss of life as well as limbs.
“Yes! we the citizens now realizing our collective strength can
ensure that none of us endure the same trauma and risks to our lives
and well being,” he observed.
The meeting with the theme “Environmental Threats – legal and
Community Networking” was also attended by families of 17 to 20
children directly exposed, some two years ago, to toxic waste material
dumped at an open plot, without any sign or warning about associated
risks, by owners of a chip board factory in SITE area.
Eight year old Iftikhar, one of the victim of severe burn
injuries could not survive while his friend Shiraz had lost his limbs,
as they searched for their ball into the waste comprising dangerous
chemicals that had assumed shape of mud and nothing unusual.
The concerned industrialists gave little heed to the plight of
children and did nothing to either remove the hazardous material from
the plot or build a wall around it consequently more instances of
chemical burn were reported among other children, playing cricket near
the high risk plot.
It was a student residing in the area who approached media and as
the plight of the resource less section was flashed on television sets
and news-papers that otherwise forgotten death of Iftikhar was revived
and police registered a case against perpetrators of the crime.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA -Sindh) too initiated
necessary investigations which established that violation as well as
negligence towards precious human life was committed by owners of the
But lo and behold, influence and connection at right quarters
came as a relief to the violators as soon the police again resorted to
its dilly delaying tactics, concerned EPA- Sindh official was removed
from his job and a lower court absolved violators of their
responsibility towards harm done to children.
By then media, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, doctors
treating the injured children, members of civil society and resource-
less people of the area joined hands to ensure that justice be done.
They indeed succeeded as Sindh High Court provided with all
documentary proof by a former Director General of EPA -Sindh, Iqbal
Said Khan, an SSP – Police who refused to budge and other honest and
diligent personnel, came up with a detailed judgement that may go a
long way for the safety of citizens.
This has also provided citizens of Karachi a chance to rise above
their linguistic, socio-economic and class differences for collective
good of each and every citizen.