It was the first working day of the week, and Abid Asghar woke up early to head to his small office in Karachi’s central district. This was no ordinary Monday, however. Asghar and his comrades had taken time off from their jobs for a far more important task: preventing thousands of houses from being demolished in Karachi.
“Around 9 am on 21 June, we were making placards for our protest, which was supposed to take place in front of Bilawal House”—the headquarters of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which heads the provincial government in Sindh—“to demand our just rights and fair compensation for the broken houses,” Asghar told me. “However, I received a call from someone and got to know that they are going to arrest me soon.”
Soon after he left, seven police vans, with at least ten plainclothes intelligence officers and around fifty policemen in uniform, raided the area. “They entered my office,” Asghar said, and “seized the banners, posters, all the files containing important data about the demolitions and the funds of a hundred thousand rupees we had painstakingly collected. All gone in seconds.”