499 high and mighty in for trouble
SC move against misuse of farmhouses to affect rulers, generals, bureaucrats, businessmen
By Rauf Klasra: The News, October 10, 2007
ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musahrraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz might be deprived of their two multi-million rupee farmhouses, which they bought in the suburbs of Islamabad in 2003, after the Chief Justice of Pakistan directed the CDA bosses on Monday to cancel allotment of all those farms which were being used for residential purposes. The farms were initially alloted at highly subsidised rates for growing vegetables and poultry farming.
The CJ’s sweeping directive to the CDA might affect the ownership of 499 top guns, who were allotted a total of 2,500 acres of land worth billions of rupees in the suburbs of Islamabad at throwaway prices in the name of meeting the rising demand for vegetables, orchards and poultry in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. It has now been brought to the notice of the court that instead of cultivating vegetables and orchards and keeping poultry, huge luxury palaces have been constructed on the plots by powerful people.
A top CDA official has claimed that the farmhouses of both the president and the prime minister also fall in the category of those farms which were not being used for the purpose for which they were originally allotted by the CDA. The CDA has quietly informed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry that President General Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz have purchased two plots measuring 5 acres and 2.5 acres respectively worth millions of rupees, which were actually meant for boosting production of poultry and vegetables in the suburbs of Islamabad. The CJ has been informed that a total of 25,000 acres of precious land worth billions of rupees in the suburbs of Islamabad was given to 499 tops guns of the country including powerful generals, bureaucrats, businessmen and officials of the secret agencies at highly subsidised rates in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s under the CDA’s policy to meet the rising demands of certain commodities in the twin cities. However, a majority of those who were allotted these plots, mostly army officers and bureaucrats, later sold them at much higher prices after the CDA brought about changes in its by-laws to accommodate some powerful people to sell these farms. Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz too have purchased farmlands from the actual owners.
The so-far secret list submitted in the court of CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry by the CDA through official letter No EMA.IN/2007 in the suo moto case No 10 of 2007 on the issue of increased prices of daily commodities, reveals that a total of 499 top guns of Pakistan were allotted these farms. But instead of producing poultry and vegetables on these big farms, they simply constructed huge palatial mansions and recreational facilities.
The names of Musharraf, son of Musharrafuddin, owner of plot No C-1/B Park Road Chak Shahzad and Shaukat Aziz, son of Sh Abdul Aziz, owner of plot No C-16, A-1, Chak Shahzad, have been submitted to the court in response to the Supreme Court orders dated July 23 and August 9. Now in the court of CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who is heading a bench to hear a case against the causes of price hike, both Musharraf and Aziz might face charges of violating the terms and conditions of CDA policy for which these plots were actually allotted.
The list containing the names of Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz in addition to 497 other high-ups was submitted before the SC by Raja Abdul Ghafoor, advocate, on record on behalf of the CDA on September 3. This correspondent has managed to get the original copy of allotment order of these farms which reveals the names of all those who exploited their power to get them at throwaway prices, but later either sold them in the open market or did not use the land for for the purpose they had got it in the first place.
Apart from the president and prime minister, Justice Dr Javed Iqbal, the son of national poet Allama Iqbal is also included in the list submitted before the Supreme Court. Justice Javed Iqbal has got one plot of 2.72 acres in 1999 in the name of launching a poultry and vegetable business from one Nazir Mohammad Sheikh. The ISI had also got certain agro farms allotted in its name.
For complete story and names of others who got farm houses on cheap rates, click here