LAHORE: A Pakistani woman who shot to internet fame last week, after she called Prime Minister Imran Khan during a live Q&A session and complained about a tenant who had illegally occupied her house, has called for a reform of the justice system in the country, saying millions like her have no recourse.
Ayesha Mazhar, a single mother of a three-year-old, called Khan on Sunday and said a tenant had refused to leave her house, and subsequently to pay rent of over 450,000 rupees ($2,883), and was using his influence with the police to prolong her agony.
“The moment I ended my call with the prime minister, I was contacted by police officials who wanted to know my address and promised to resolve my case,” Mazhar told Arab News on Wednesday. “The next day I got the outstanding rental payments, and my problem was addressed.”
While she expressed gratitude to the government, she also called for institutional reforms. “Do we always have to call the prime minister when we find ourselves in such situations?” She asked.
Mazhar, who lives in Quetta, said her mother had bought a house in Lahore’s DHA Rahbar Housing Society, which she rented to a man named Imran Asghar in 2019, who turned out to be the brother of a senior superintendent of police, and who, after a point, refused to pay rent or vacate her house despite repeated requests.
Asghar also got a stay order from a court which “allowed him to occupy the house for an indefinite period,” Mazhar said. “I wonder how a court can allow a person to do that and turn the real owner of a house homeless?”
Mazhar said that consequently, she could not move into the house in Lahore. “I am a divorcee with a three-year-old son. Can you imagine what it must be like for a woman to travel to a new city with no shelter?”
She said that she had lodged a complaint with police but was “devastated” when the tenant used abusive language against her at a police station and no officials intervened.
“The situation took its toll on my mother’s health, who was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “I took my mother to see several parliamentarians and even visited media houses, but no one came to our rescue.”
Mazhar applauded Lahore’s former Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umer Sheikh who got Asghar to vacate the house last December before being transferred. Asghar, however, “refused to pay the rent which had piled up in the last two years and amounted to over 450,000 rupees,” she said.
Asked about Mazhar’s case, the city’s new CCPO Mehmood Dogar agreed that it had been mishandled.
“It was a simple case,” he said. “Her house was illegally occupied, and the tenant was not vacating the premises. However, it became tricky due to the legal technicalities since both parties had filed their cases in the court and we were bound by its orders.”
He added that the police had launched an operation against illegal occupants since the beginning of the year, and restored the possession of more than 350 plots to their rightful owners.
Police spokesperson Muhammad Arif said more than 100,000 such cases were reported every year and resolved in accordance with the law.
“This was one case where things grew ugly and the victim had to suffer at the hands of our system,” he said, adding that the CCPO had asked all police stations to deal with such cases as a priority.
Meanwhile, Mazhar said she hoped Khan would do his best to reform the police and judiciary, and provide some respite to “millions of people who are suffering and desperately waiting for justice.”