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Punjab Cabinet Allots Land Meant For Heirs Of Pak Army Martyrs To Govt Officials

The provincial cabinet of Punjab has approved allotment of more than 775 acres of land worth billions of rupees – meant for families of martyrs of Pakistan Army – to 47 key officials and government employees. These allotments were originally made during the rule of General Musharraf, who approved the allotment of lands either to those civilians who served him directly or his regime indirectly.

According to a news report published in The News, the decision to allot land to ‘favourite’ government officials was taken in the Punjab cabinet’s last meeting held on April 30. The newspaper quoted sources as saying that the chief minister approved the allotment first and then placed the matter before the cabinet as a formality.

The report said that the then CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif in 2008 objected to the allotment of the land to the government officials and employees as the land was meant for the military and families of its martyrs. The Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) president not only suspended the allotments, but also announced that an action under the rules would be taken against those officers who got these lands from the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf as a prize for their ‘services’.

Punjab Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raja Basharat commented on the development and said, “This matter was pending as Shahbaz Sharif did not take any action against these officers so now the matter has been resolved, and we have approved the allotments. We have also got an understanding with the Army that next time civilian officers would not be given land by them.”

The ‘favourite’ officers who were allotted the land by the chief minister include Personal Staff Officer to Chief Minister Amir Karim Khan, Additional Home Secretary Faisal Zahoor and Secretary Board of Revenue Ashfaq Ahmad, among others. These three officers have been given 25 acres each. The price of 25 acres of land currently comes to Rs75 million. These state assets of more than Rs4 billion have been doled out.

The report claimed that during the period of Pervez Musharraf, these officers got recommendations from the land branch of Army for allotment of land. The deputy commissioners of the districts, who were colleagues of the beneficiary officers, allotted land to the officers without caring that under the law this land could only be allotted to the families of martyrs and the veterans.

When Shahbaz Sharif came to know of this scam, he suspended the recipient officers of Punjab government and cancelled the land allotments. Moreover, the recommendations for allotment were later withdrawn by the military land branch as well.

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