Letter to Director Building Control,

Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority

30 April 2010

Dear Sir,

This is to refer to your letter No DHA/TP&BC/A-2992 dated 19 April 2010 addressed to my wife, which was received yesterday. As my wife is in Siran Valley therefore I am responding to you.

We had given residential address to our NGO because conditions in Siran and Swat where my wife is working are most difficult, infrastructure are missing and important communication tend not to reach in time or intended destination. The entire world cares and sends all kind of help but DHA does not care and objects to my wife using our residential address as a post box for humanitarian work. Therefore our lawyers immediately applied for change in address of the NGO.

We told you vide both our letters dated 16thand 19thMarch, that our resident is not being used for any commercial purpose. And if DHA has any other reason to believe otherwise it should give us the reason but so far we have only received one-sentence statements from DHA, ‘Residential premesis is being used for commercial purpose (not allowed).’ Another sentence simply states, ‘Vigilance Report on 25 Nov 2009’. We have repeatedly asked for Vigilance Report and reasons and evidence but so far we have not received any explanation whatsoever. Although it is the law of land that you cannot take any action without disclosing the reason and affording sufficient time to reply.

Yours faithfully,

Suhail Zaheer Lari

 

Letter to Administrator, Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority

Your ref: DHA/TP&BC/A-2992

30 April 2010

Dear Sir,

We designed our residence at E6, Fourth Gizri Street, DHA-4, not merely for eating and sleeping but with studio to cater for our intellectual pursuits.

We began construction of our Bungalow after DHA approved the submission plan with the studio in 1970. DHA also approved completion plan of our house with studio in 1980. 

We used the studio to research, document and make inventory of our heritage. We first documented Thatta, the old capital of Sindh. And published two books, one is, ‘Vernacular Architecture of Thatta, on Thatta town, and other is ‘Jewel of Sindh’ on Makli graveyard. Then my wife documented Karachi, published booklets on all twenty-two quarters in which British had divided Karachi, and finally published the book, ‘Karachi during the Raj’, which is considered a classic. And I did books called, ‘An Illustrated History of Sindh’ and ‘A History of Muslim Painting’. 

We have over fifteen thousand books in our house and over twenty thousand photographs, sketches and drawings in each of our computers which are freely available to researchers. We also collected newspapers and magazines. The newspapers took too much space therefore we handed over three decades of newspapers to FOMMA to scan.

Our books have affected political dialogue. For example, before my book on Sindh was published a decade ago, a number of politicians in Sindh used the slogan that Raja Dahir is our Hero and Mohd bin Qasim was the invader. Now they don’t do that because my book showed that Dahir was not a Sindhi but a Kashmiri.

My wife also started a movement for preservation of our heritage. The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a law whereby all the buildings documented by my wife, have been preserved, to the annoyance of building mafia who began a campaign against her.

Instead of helping her, DHA moved into our residence in 1989, to take possession of the Studio where we conducted our research and prepared inventory of our heritage. General Asif Nawaz the then Corp Commander called us and the then DHA Administrator and after listening to us both, told the Administrator to vacate our house.

The history seems to repeat itself after twenty years. She established offices in Karachi Municipal Corporation and Karachi Port Trust last year, to salvage delicate old British period drawings and documents of Old City and Port area, and set up office at Denso Hall to began cleaning buildings on Bunder Road to preserve them. The building mafia once again became active against her. 

Instead of supporting her, DHA sent us one sentence notice, DHA/TP&BC/A-2992 dated 10 December 2009, which said, ‘residential premises is being used for commercial purpose’.It referred to a Vigilance Report but did not say as to what it was. Therefore I wrote to DHA vide our letter dated 16thDecember 2009 to provide copy of Vigilance report so that I may know the reason for DHA thinking that my residence is being used for commercial purpose but we did not receive any reply.

After a Muharram procession was bombed on Bunder Road, the building mafia tried to demolish buildings affected by it so that they can build lucrative multistoried plazas there. My wife organized resistance against it, to the annoyance of building mafia. 

Once again, instead of supporting us, DHA repeated its one sentence notice on 17thMarch 2010, that ‘residential premises is being used for commercial purpose’. 

The facts are that I retired as MD of a public limited company decades ago and live and use E6, 4thGizri Street, DHA-4, as my residence. My last Income Tax Return shows that I have not earned any income from any work whatsoever. I live on income from investment.

The same is true for my wife, Yasmeen Lari, a well-known architect. She has retired, as DHA record will show because she has not renewed her license as architect with DHA for over a decade. If she were commercially minded she would have renewed her license every year, to continue to practice as architect and mint money. 

Instead my wife lived and worked in the Lahore Fort from 2001 to 2003 where the roof of historic Sheesh Mahal had caved in and UNESCO asked her to help. And ever since the earthquake she had lived in Siran Valley to help earthquake-affected people. Now she also works in Swat at the request of UNESCO. How can her work be commercial? And how can what she does in Siran Valley and Swat thousands of miles away make our residence in DHA commercial?

My wife is on the Board of ERRA and has been asked to make an inventory of Heritage Buildings in Hazara and Azad Kashmir. Commerce or profit is neither her motive nor of ERRA which is run by Army. How can her work in Hazara and Azad Kashmir thousands of miles away make our residence in DHA commercial?

And how can setting up offices in Karachi Municipal Corporation and Karachi Port Trust and Denso Hall amounts to using our residence in Defence for commercial purpose?

If our income tax return for last year shows that we did not earn any money from our work, how can our work be commercial? According to Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Commercial is, ‘having profit as a primary aim.’ 

DHA also confuses professional with commercial. Professionals have traditionally operated from their house including Quaid-i-Azam. They are not shopkeepers who take their ware to market for profit. They do public service.

In advanced countries, computer and Internet are allowing people to work from home instead of wasting time in commuting, incurring wear and tear, and cost of vehicles, roads, and infrastructure. It is now accepted as an irreversible trend that most people will in future work from home. DHA should shun the concept of residence as a place of merely eating and sleeping which is a barbaric concept tantamount to treating citizen as animals.

DHA should also accept that in a Muslim country like ours, a large number of highly educated ladies are forced, or prefer to work at home. Therefore they should be encouraged to contribute to society from home. Similarly older people should be allowed to work from home to continue to contribute from their experience. My wife, and I are both over 70 years of age. Why should DHA grudge that we maintain studio for our intellectual pursuits.

In fact in all civilized countries any use of residential premises have been objected to only if it created a nuisance by noise or traffic jam, etc. Even then authorities first look for solution, like re-routing the traffic, etc, because they are always looking for maximum utilization of human and physical assets of their citizen. Planners have also begun to realize that all round activity provide safety to areas which bereft of men out to work are left at the mercy of criminal elements.

In our case, our work is being conducted in Swat, Peshawar, Azad Kashmir, Hazara and Siran Valley in the North. And in the South, in our offices at Karachi Municipal Corporation, Karachi Port Trust and Denso Hall in Karachi. DHA should visit these places to see that our work is not of commercial nature instead of breaching the dignity of life and privacy of home granted by the constitution of Pakistan. What makes DHA think that we are using our residence when we have so many work-places all over the country. Especially when it is in the nature of our work that it is to be done at site in the field. 

In the light of above, DHA should accept the vested right created through approval of studio given to us forty years ago and confirmed by General Asif Nawaz so that we can continue to use our home for intellectual pursuit to further human and public interest for which my wife has received Sitara-i-Imtiaz from government of Pakistan and has been named by UN as one of sixty women from all over the world who have contributed to sixty years of UNESCO.

Thanking you.

Yours faithfully,

Suhail Zaheer Lari

 

Letter to Commander 5 Corps, Karachi, and President

Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority

6 May 2010

Dear Sir, 

I am writing to you in the hope that you will ask DHA not to treat citizen living in DHA as if they were living in Army camp and stop pursuing policies which Planners even in the richest country do not think that they can afford. We go around begging but act like Kings.

In advanced countries, computer and Internet are allowing people to work from home instead of wasting time in commuting, incurring wear and tear, cost of vehicles, roads, and infrastructure. It is now accepted as an irreversible trend that most people will in future work from home. DHA should shun the concept of residence as a place of merely eating and sleeping which is a barbaric concept tantamount to treating citizen as animals.

DHA should also accept that in a Muslim country like ours, a large number of highly educated ladies are forced, or prefer to work at home. Therefore they should be encouraged to contribute to society from home. Similarly older people should be allowed to work from home to continue to contribute from their experience. My wife, and I are both over 70 years of age.

In fact in all civilized countries any use of residential premises have been objected to only if it created a nuisance by noise or traffic jam, etc. Even then authorities first look for solution, like re-routing the traffic, etc, because they are always looking for maximum utilization of human and physical assets of their citizen. Planners have also begun to realize that all round activity provide safety to areas, which bereft of men out to work are left at the mercy of criminal elements.

According to Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Commercial is, ‘having profit as a primary aim.’ DHA confuses professional with commercial. They are not shopkeepers who take their ware to market for profit. They do public service. Professionals have traditionally operated from their house including Quaid-i-Azam and Moti Lal Nehru. It was allowed all over British India. It is allowed in KDA Schemes whose plan was prepared by UN expert to which my wife also contributed. It is allowed in Islamabad, etc.

We designed our residence at E6, Fourth Gizri Street, DHA-4, not merely for eating and sleeping but with studio to cater for our intellectual pursuits.

We began construction of our Bungalow after DHA approved the submission plan with the studio in 1970. DHA also approved completion plan of our house with studio in 1980. 

We used the studio to research, document and make inventory of our heritage. We first documented Thatta, the old capital of Sindh. And published two books, one is, ‘Vernacular Architecture of Thatta, on Thatta town, and other is ‘Jewel of Sindh’ on Makli graveyard. Then my wife documented Karachi, published booklets on all twenty-two quarters in which British had divided Karachi, and finally published the book, ‘Karachi during the Raj’, which is considered a classic. And I did books called, ‘An Illustrated History of Sindh’ and ‘Neither Islamic nor Persian’. 

We have over fifteen thousand books in our house and over twenty thousand photographs, sketches and drawings in each of our computers, which are freely available to researchers. We also collected newspapers and magazines. The newspapers took too much space therefore we handed over three decades of newspapers to FOMMA to scan.

Our books have affected political dialogue. For example, before my book on Sindh was published a decade ago, a number of politicians in Sindh used the slogan that Raja Dahir is our Hero and Mohd bin Qasim was the invader. Now they don’t do that that because my book showed that Dahir was not a Sindhi but a Kashmiri. And my book ‘Neither Islamic nor Persian’ first time showed that Taliban are part of Islamic polity and whenever government weakens they emerge from Madrasa and destroy all schools, libraries, art and science.

My wife also started a movement for preservation of our heritage. The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a law whereby all the buildings documented by my wife, have been preserved, to the annoyance of building mafia who began a campaign against her.

Instead of helping her, DHA moved into our residence in 1989, to take possession of the Studio where we conducted our research and prepared inventory of our heritage. This was the time when ablue-eyed boy of the then Administrator of DHA used to barge into houses where men folk had gone out for work and lonely ladies were running day care centre or Montessori schools for infants and children. And judiciary, which has suffered under Ayub and Zia, was not yet strong enough to take on the army.

Fortunately, Retd Naval Chief Admiral Ahsan, Retd Supreme Court Judge Dorab Patel and Baji were visiting us. They were horrified to see the spectacle. Admiral Ahsan who was one of the founders of Defence Society said it was not founded for this. Justice Patel called it violation of fundamental rights. Baji said that Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck use to say to her that Punjab Army cannot think above its ankles. They decided to call Aitzaz Ahsan who was interior minister. Aitezaz was equally horrified and called General Asif Nawaz the then Corp Commander, who called me and the then DHA Administrator and after listening to us both, told the Administrator to vacate our house.

The history seems to repeat itself after twenty years. My wife, established offices in Karachi Municipal Corporation and Karachi Port Trust last year, to salvage delicate old British period drawings and documents of Old City and Port area, and also to find documentary support to preserve them. The building mafia once again became active against her. 

Instead of supporting her, DHA sent us one sentence notice, DHA/TP&BC/A-2992 dated 10 December 2009, which said, ‘residential premises is being used for commercial purpose’.It referred to a Vigilance Report but did not say as to what it was. Therefore I wrote to DHA that I couldn’t give adequate reply to your notice unless you provide me copy of the said vigilance report and reasons and evidence that has made you give the aforesaid notice. This principle is enshrined in laws of all civilized countries including ours. Any action taken by you prior to the receipt by me of the said report and sufficient time for reply thereof will be obviously malafide.

After a Muharram procession was bombed on Bunder Road, the building mafia tried to demolish buildings affected by it so that they can build lucrative multistoried plazas there. My wife rushed back from Siran Valley to organized resistance against it, and set up an office at Denso Hall with the help of Institute of Architects, Pakistan Council of Architects and Planners, volunteers from NED College and Karachi University, to begin cleaning buildings and taking measure for their safety. This once again annoyed the building mafia. 

And once again, instead of supporting her, DHA repeated its one sentence notice on 17thMarch 2010, that ‘residential premises is being used for commercial purpose’. We have repeatedly asked for Vigilance Report and reasons and evidence but so far we have not received any explanation in writing whatsoever from DHA. 

In my absence, my wife replied that the DHA staff is most welcome to visit the premises since no commercial activity is being carried out in the premises. My wife had given residential address to her NGO because conditions in Siran and Swat where my wife works are most difficult, infrastructure is missing and important communication tend not to reach in time or intended destination. The entire world cares and sends all kind of help including volunteers but DHA objects to my wife using our residential address as a post box for humanitarian work. Therefore she has asked her lawyer to apply for change in address of the NGO.

The facts are that I retired as MD of a public limited company decades ago and live and use E6, 4thGizri Street, DHA-4, as my residence. My last Income Tax Return shows that I have not earned any income from any work whatsoever. I live on income from investment.

The same is true for my wife, Yasmeen Lari, a well-known architect. She has retired, as DHA record will show because she has not renewed her license as architect with DHA for over a decade. If she were commercially minded she would have continued to renew her license with DHA, KDA, CDA, etc; to practice as architect and mint money. 

Instead my wife lived and worked in the Lahore Fort from 2001 to 2003 where the roof of historic Sheesh Mahal had caved in and UNESCO asked her to help. And ever since the earthquake she had lived in Siran Valley to help earthquake-affected people. Now she also works in Swat at the request of UNESCO. How can her work be commercial? And how can what she does in Siran Valley and Swat thousands of miles away make our residence in DHA commercial?

My wife is on the Board of ERRA and has been asked to make an inventory of Buildings in Hazara and Azad Kashmir, which are to be saved. Commerce or profit is neither her motive nor of ERRA which is run by Army. How can her work in Hazara and Azad Kashmir thousands of miles away make our residence in DHA commercial?

If our income tax return for last year shows that we did not earn any money from our work, how can our work be commercial? 

My wife’s NGO work is being conducted in Swat, Peshawar, Azad Kashmir, Hazara and Siran Valley in the North. And in the South, in our offices at Karachi Municipal Corporation, Karachi Port Trust and Denso Hall in Karachi. DHA should visit these places to see that her work is not of commercial nature instead of breaching the dignity of life and privacy of home granted by the constitution of Pakistan. I cannot understand as to what makes DHA think that her NGO is using our residence when we have so many work-places all over the country. Especially when it is in the nature of her work that it is to be done at site and in the field where she has been living since 2001. 

In the light of above, DHA should accept the vested right created through approval of studio given to us forty years ago and confirmed by General Asif Nawaz so that we can continue to use our home for intellectual pursuit to further human and public interest for which my wife has received Sitara-i-Imtiaz from government of Pakistan and has been named by UN as one of sixty women from all over the world who have contributed to sixty years of UNESCO.

Suhail Zaheer Lari

 

Letter to Secretary Defence and Chairman Governing Body

Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority

23 June 2010

Dear Sir, 

I wrote a letter to you on 10thMay 2010, a copy of which I enclose.

Are you not concerned that our externel debt will soon reach sixty billion dollars and internal debt trillion rupees. It has made us beggars. 

I once again suggest that you should allow people to work from home and not hamper their creative energies, as the computer and the internet have created an irreversible trend for people to work from home all over the world.

All economists agree that the only way out for us is self-employment, which means working from home. You must have heard of the Grameen Bank, which won the Nobel Prize for enabling women to work from home. Therefore when my wife was persuaded by UNESCO to go into Swat, what she did was to redesign the loom and bring it down from four to two and half feet so that women could handle it and work on it at home. They became productive members of the society and my wife exhibited their work in Islamabad on Saturday 19 June 2010. If you allow women in DHA to set up looms in their houses, they can do even better, because they are more educated and aware of the latest design trends. Our constitution guarantees equality so how can you discriminate against DHA folks.

What about organic farming and cattle breeding? Please look back at your fathers’ days when vegetables were grown at home and cattle were kept for milk and chickens for eggs. I remember that the chairman of my company, the late Sardar Bahadur Khan, brother of President Ayub Khan, and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, kept his charpoy under a fruit tree next to his cattle, and welcomed visitors there. And in our slums most people keep their goats and chickens in their homes. So why discriminate against DHA folks?

We wanted to build our house in mud but were not allowed to do so by DHA, although at one time all our houses used to be built of mud. including Mughal monument like Lahore Fort, where tiles and precious stones have been put over walls of rubble. And Thatta has three storey high mud houses. My wife helped the army build barracks in Bahawalpur in mud, which was described by one of your generals as being better than air-conditioned ones. So why should DHA deny it? My wife who lives and works in an earthquake affected area, avoids cement and steel because it was the main killer during the earthquake. In the case of our house in the Siran Valley she is now building additional accommodation with bamboo, which is cheap in Mardan. After all, the whole of East Asia is built of bamboo. So what is so special about DHA?

According to our constitution, the privacy of the home is inviolable therefore DHA should stop interfering with what we do in our homes and start paying attention to the infrastructure. We bought the plot in DHA because we saw water from the house next door overflowing onto the plot next to it. And we planted all kind of fruit trees, comprising a variety of mangoes, mulberry, guava, sharifa, jamun, lemon and grapefruit trees plus a lawn. But now there is no lawn, and there are no trees, because there is no water. When the pipes dried up, DHA first supplied us three tankers of water per week, then two per week, and last week they supplied only one. Further, in the beginning the DHA tanker had a 1300-gallon capacity, but now the tanker is of 900-gallon capacity only. Naturally we have to buy water every week at great cost. Similarly the law and order situation has deteriorated. An assistant was robbed of tops and bangles, and a maid servant working for us was abducted from our street.

Please have some respect for the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, which allows equality, privacy of home and the right to property, and scrap silly DHA bye-laws. As far as we are concerned we have this house in DHA where I live, and a six acre pine forest in the Siran Valley where my wife lives and experiments with ways to raise the standard of living of those people, because she does not believe that it is enough to rebuild their houses. And according to my last income tax return, my only income was from investment in the share market while my wife had income from a book that she wrote on Punjab Governor’s House., so you cant accuse us of being commercial.

Yours faithfully,

Suhail Zaheer Lari

Letter to Secretary Defence and Chairman Governing Body

Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority, 2/B, East Street, Karachi

6 July 2010

Dear Sir, 

I wrote to you on 10thMay 2010 and on 23 June 2010 but so far I have not received any response from you. Although it is good manners to at least acknowledge. 

Meanwhile I am shocked to read in Tribune that DHA employees barged into the home of Ms Sheema Kirmani to stop her from playing music. It amazes me because Ms Kirmani has done more for this country than all the DHA characters combined. It is also shameful that single women have been targets of DHA because they are not likely to go for their gun, which will soon happen if DHA does not stop violating the dignity of man and privacy of home granted by the constitution and UN charter.

The civilized and legal procedure is that DHA should present a detailed charge to the person concerned, give sufficient time for reply and if not satisfied, go to the court, prove their case there, and act according to order of the court.

I hope you will raise your voice for the Constitution, which you are sworn to defend, and universal human rights charter of UN to which Pakistan is a signatory. Failing which I will be forced to raise the issue before President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air, as well as relevant UN agencies and World court.

I am sick and tired of harassment of DHA that does not even provide basic facilities such as water. As I wrote to you at first DHA provided three tankers of thirteen hundred gallons each and since last week it is only providing two tankers of five hundred gallons each. Hence apart from paying water charges to DHA we have to buy water from market.

Yours faithfully,

Suhail Zaheer Lari

 

Letter to Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee(CJCSC), JSHQ, Chaklala

Saturday 25 June 2011

Sir,

Last Saturday I invited General Ali Kuli Khan to my group at the Sind Club, he bemoaned the fact that everybody is criticizing army.

Why does the army do things for which it is criticized? I have been living in DHA since 1973, and I must have written dozens of letters to the authorities, but I have never received any reply because no one has told them that it is good manners to acknowledge. And it is good governance to keep a register in which every incoming mail is entered for action.

I wrote to both the Cantonment Executive Officer and Admin Officer on 26 May and 16 June 2011, saying that I have not received the allocated water.A copy of my letter is enclosed.Instead of acknowledging, explaining or apologizing, they have totally stopped the supply of water to us.

How is it that they have not been able to solve the water problem in the last forty years since I have been living in DHA? They are giving a bad name to the Army. I suggest that you create an advisory body of civilians to run DHA. After all, the cream of the civilian population lives in DHA. 

My uncle became DC of Lahore on 14 August 1947. Lahore was burning and full of refugees, but as Chairman of the Lahore Improvement Trust he created a new Lahore from Shah Almi to Gulberg. And as Chairman of the Thal Development Authority he created the new cities of Joharabad and Quaidabad, etc. in the Thal Desert with roads, water, power and industry. As chairman of both authorities at the same time he was always on the go, meeting people, listening to their problems, etc.

My wife, who has done Baloch Mess, etc; for the army, has not only built hundreds of houses, schools and craft centres for earthquake affected people in the Siran Valley because no one went there. After the floods, she built hundreds of houses, schools and craft centres in Swat, where people were afraid to go. We have also been working in Karachi, Khairpur, Peshawar and Thatta, by associating affected people with our work, and without taking a single penny from the government.

Despite both of us being over seventy, we have created a reference and E library at home and written over a dozen books, which have become reference works. 

Yours faithfully

Suhail Zaheer Lari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter to Commander 5 Corps, Karachi, and President

Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority dated 31 January 2012

Reminder No 5

 

I bought Plot E6 Fourth Gizri Street in 1970’s because there was abundance of water. However it completely dried by 1980’s and I was supplied three tankers each week when each tanker contained 1300 gallons of water.

Now I am being supplied two tankers each week when each tanker contains only 900 gallons of water therefore I have been buying additional tankers costing over millions of rupees since 1980s over and above the water charges that I regularly pay.

Suddenly without any notice water supply has been completely stopped. When my driver went to complain he was told that I should put it in writing, however, my letters dated 5th, 10th, 16thJanuary 2012 has not even been acknowledged.