February 2020




By ​ Our Correspondent Published: February 27, 2020

QUETTA: As the development work in Quetta continues, those affected by the construction of Sabzal Road have complained that the authorities have announced a much lesser price to compensate them.

“Sabzal Road Phase II is a commercial area which starts from the Guest House and ends at the University Road. The government has fixed Rs1,725 per square foot, while the actual value of the land is more than Rs10,000 per square foot,” one of the affectees said.

“If the rates are not fixed in accordance with the market value, we will intensify our protest,” he added.  The affectees were addressing a press conference in Quetta.

The main roads in the provincial capital are being expanded in view of the Quetta Development Package. In the first phase, work on Joint Road, Sariab Road and Sabzal Road has started.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2020.




The Newspaper’s Correspondent February 17, 2020

RAHIM YAR KHAN: Suspected land grabbers kidnapped a man allegedly over an agricultural land dispute and later tried to burn him alive before he was recovered by police.

This was revealed by landowner Dr Khalid Mehmood at a press conference at the district press club here on Sunday.

Mr Mehmood claimed that his family inherited 27 kanal in Basti Warni, Mouza Shahgarh but influential clerics Maulvi Ahsan and Maulvi Hammadullah had sold through verbal agreements their entire land as well as several acres of the village shaamlaat land to people for millions of rupees, including the Hindus of Manghwal tribe.

When he filed an application to Deputy Commissioner Ali Shehzad, Assistant Commissioner Aitazaz Anjum sent police to get their land vacated and handed over its possession to them.

He further alleged that on Saturday Hammad, Ahsan, Humeria and another person kidnapped his associate, Shabbir Ahmed, and tried to burn him alive, but police recovered him. He also claimed that the clerics were forcing the Hindu community to claim possession of the land. There were many illegal occupants on dozens of acres of the shaamlaat land that should be vacated, he added.

Meanwhile, police registered a first information report against the suspected land grabbers, including Ahsan, Hammad, Loharkia, Humera, Akbar Nainghwal, Poran, Akram Chand, Darshan, Kareeman and a few others under sections 342, 427, 148 and 149 of PPC at Kot Samaba police station.

A counter report was filed against against Dr Mehmood, Zahid and Hanif on the application of Akbar under Section 436 of the PPC at the same police station.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2020



By RECORDER REPORT on February 19, 2020

Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies (IIPS) on Tuesday started an exercise for mapping & digitization of urban lands on national basis for documentation of immovable properties records to facilitate federal/provincial authorities and regulatory bodies, including the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

This has been disclosed by Chairman Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies at the launching ceremony of its advisory board which would provide thoughtful leadership and strategic oversight for IIPS as it moves forward.

Launch event and inaugural session of the Board held here on Tuesday was attended by people from academia, government and industry.

The Iqbal Institute is driving research and policymaking through collaboration between the government, academia & the private sector. The over-arching vision of the Institute extends to the development and promulgation of a comprehensive vision for Pakistan 2030, covering multiple sectors of opportunity for the economic and social growth of the nation.

The IIPS Advisory Board operates to realize the vision of the Institute and is headed by Lieutenant General Muhammad Haroon Aslam (Retd) in the capacity of President. Advisory board consists of seasoned professionals from different fields of life, including Tariq Ikram (Sitara-e-Imtiaz), a former minister for state and chief executive trade development authority, Dr Asif Naqvi, International associate director of Royal College of physicians and surgeons UK, Rear Admiral Saleem Akhtar (retd), a former DG Bahria University Islamabad, Dr Shujat Ali, former federal secretary, Dr Zafar Qadir, chairman Taleem Foundation, Air Vice Marshal Sohail Ahmad (Retd) and Khurram Farid Bargatt, vice chairman Town Planning for Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners.

While speaking on the occasion, Shafiq Akbar, chairman Iqbal Institute of Policy Studies said the IIPS will be leading the way in the comprehensive mapping & digitization of urban land in the entire country through PropSure Digital Solutions, with over 3.5 million pieces of land already digitized across 7 largest cities of Pakistan. Leveraging this data, the Institute is in a unique place to make policy recommendations to the government, regulators, academia & private sector, helping to build a fruitful and long-term collaboration between the key stakeholders in the ecosystem in Pakistan.

IIPS is based in the state-of-the-art National Science & Technology Park (NSTP) at NUST in Islamabad, where teams are being deployed in two major areas. The first area covers Research & Development on cutting edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain. The second area covers Programme Management in the identification and mapping of opportunities in sectors such as trade & commerce, health and medical, housing and infrastructure, tourism, hospitality, education, poverty alleviation and others, working closely with academics & student talent bank at NUST.

IIPS in collaboration with National University of Science and Technology (NUST) to launch a special capacity building course RE Science to educate real estate agents and people who want to work in real estate industry.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated February 22, 2020

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the railways secretary to file a reply to an application regarding the abandoned Hyatt Regency Hotel structure built on a piece of Pakistan Railway’s land.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, also asked the secretary to file the reply with the approval of the railways minister.

The bench also comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah passed these directives while hearing a matter regarding reported lease of prime land belonging to the PR at the SC’s Karachi registry.

The chief justice questioned as to how the land estimated to be valued at Rs53 trillion had been sold at merely Rs530 million.

He further observed that the Privatisation Commission had no authority to sell the land belonging to the PR under the law since it was a public property.

The CJP observed that Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed during a recent hearing had informed the apex court that the entire railways department could be revamped if one plot belonging to it was sold at market value.

The apex court asks railways secretary to file reply on Hyatt Regency hotel structure

At a previous hearing, the court had summoned the attorney general of Pakistan along with record of a plot of land on which the abandoned Hyatt Regency Hotel structure was built.

During the hearing, the bench was informed that the abandoned building was in the possession of Aqeel Karim Dhedhi since the land was leased out in 2004 to him for 99 years by the PR to establish the National Commodity Exchange.

The counsel for Mr Dhedhi had submitted that the Privatisation Commission had leased the land after completing all formalities.

However, a PR official had contended that as per an earlier directive of the apex court, the railways land could not be leased for more than five years.

The advocate general of Sindh had also submitted that the land was meant only for railway purposes.

The court issued notices to the advocate general Sindh, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the Karachi Development Authority and the Karachi Port Trust in a case pertaining to the construction of a commercial building on an amenity plot and part of the Shaheed Benazir Park in Boat Basin.

A lawyer appeared on behalf of builder Akhlaq Memon and submitted that the latter had proceeded to Canada.

The bench also called files of the lawsuits pending before the Sindh High Court in respect of the property in question.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter February 22, 2020

KARACHI: Sindh Minister for Forests and Wildlife Nasir Shah on Friday commended what he termed relentless efforts made by officials of the forest department that resulted in the inclusion of 421,000 acres of the revenue department’s land in the forest category.

Officials said the total land reserved for forest category had been increased from 600,000 acres to 1.021 million acres after the additional land was registered and entered in the land utilisation record in a short period of three months.

Mr Shah was presiding over a meeting to review the progress of the land utilisation record vis-à-vis forest department issues at the office of senior member Board of Revenue (SMBR).

Minister Shah said that from now onwards no such land would be allotted to anyone; and no right of ownership would be given to any individual.

The minister also directed the officials concerned that revenue and forest departments would jointly make efforts to protect approximately 2.5m acres which was being registered and entered into the official land record as protective forest land.

He said the data and record of the whole forest land was being digitalised and asked the authorities to ensure proper vigilance and monitoring to improve the functioning of the forest department on modern lines.

Mr Shah said that all the pending issues related to the forest department in the offices of the revenue department and commissioners should be disposed off without further delays in light of the Supreme Court directions. The issues of encroachment pertaining to forest department should also be sorted out and the land returned to the control of forest department, he added.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020



By Muhammad Amjad Rana Published: February 22, 2020

KAMALIA: The flow of water from Ravi River is slowly and gradually reducing the area for riverbank, agricultural land and villages at the point of Kamalia.

In the absence of legislation, the victims have nowhere to look to for their rescue. Although the province hosts several courses of rivers including Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and Sutlej, the 720-kilometre long River Ravi flows from Dara Rotang point in Kangra district, just adjacent to the provincial capital.

The area between Ravi and Chenab is referred to as Doaba Rachna. The Ravi was earlier known as Irawati. However, this river no longer has the strength to flow throughout the year. The water released from India and suspension of rains and canals in ordinary course has affected the flow from Ravi River. Reportedly, the river’s water level is on a gradual decline and its high banks are also being expanded and taking up nearby land. Due to this, even a small volume of water flow can turn into a flood.

It is typical of Ravi to erode the land and change its course even with a weak flow of water. The erosion of the river banks means that the river’s course will be altered and water will flow to high-elevation areas. The erosion rate can sometimes be so high that its flow washes away hundreds of acres of land and villages within a year.

At the point of Kamalia, the river gains about 200 to 250 cusecs owing to the influx of water from Saim nullah in the provincial capital.

In the last few decades, overflow and change of Ravi River’s course has taken over space of several settlements. The brutal erosion from the river has deserted several villages including Mahabat Basti, Khar Lanawala, Takra, Jhalar Sughla, Haweli Tara, Mil Futiana, Khan Da Chak, Shahabal Shah and Sandhilianwali. Determining the field area of Ravi is near to impossible as the river does not flow in a single direction. At times, the river changes its course several times within a span of one kilometre. The land eroded from the river is not counted as part of the river’s field and, instead, as deserts. The erosion from Ravi has caused changes in the distribution of the agricultural land surrounding it.

The erosion process continues incessantly over the year and continues to eat up habitable land. In the last few decades, thousands of acres of agricultural land have been lost to erosion from Ravi River while parts of land with 15 to 20 feet of standing crops have also been eroded.

There are hundreds of people who once used to carry out farming in the land adjacent to Ravi but now they have lost both their land and their homes to the expansion of the river bed.

The government continues to be negligent to the issue even as the situation became more alarming in present times than it was in the past. There is an increased risk of flooding in areas with elevation as low as 25 feet from the river including Kamalia, Pir Mahal, Shorkut, Sandhilianwali and Uroti tehsils.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2020.



By RECORDER REPORT on February 23, 2020

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has claimed that 389 acres of land worth Rs 50 billion had been retrieved so far from land grabbers. He said work on the Karachi Circular Railways would complete within time on the directions of the Supreme Court.

He was addressing a press conference here on Saturday at Railways headquarter.

He also claimed that deficit of the railways would be more reduced by the end of the current fiscal year. He further said the cabinet had constituted a committee to review the matter of pension of railways employees.

He said a three-member committee comprising Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Asad Umar and Ishrat Ali, had been constituted to review the matter of pension of railways employees as the PR had requested that pension of its employees should be taken over by the federal government.

He said the PR had also requested the cabinet to raise the salaries of the PR employees.

Railways Minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was working hard to improve economy and taking effective steps to control inflation in the country.

He said PTI leadership wanted strict action against corrupt elements. He said that nothing had happened in medical treatment of Nawaz Sharif in the United Kingdom which created doubts about his disease.

To a question, he said the government had no threat from the PPP and the PML-N as they were unable to do something against the government. MQM was also supporting the government like the PML-Q, he asserted. The minister said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Reman would be arrested if he again came to Islamabad with an intention of sit-in.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020




By ​ Our Correspondent Published: February 12, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday to file a reference pertaining to the illegal allotment of land in Kashmore-Kandhkot District.

Expressing annoyance over the delay in filing the report, a two-member bench, comprising SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh and Justice Omar Sial, also ordered the anti-graft watchdog to submit a report after filing the reference.

“Where shall the people go when land reserved for colleges and hospitals [continues] to be illegally occupied,” remarked Justice Shaikh at the hearing, adding that now only court’s land was left to be occupied.

Following this, NAB officials submitted a progress report to the court. According to the report, NAB has completed inquiry against mukhtiarkar Abdul Ahmed Kato and other accused and has prepared a report. The accused are involved in the illegal allotment of state land through fake entries and caused a loss of at least Rs175 million to the national exchequer, the report states.

At this, the court rebuked the NAB officials for submitting a report at every hearing but failing to take any concrete steps towards taking the offenders to the task. It directed them to now submit a report after filing a reference against the accused at the next hearing on February 18.

Another two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, issued notices to provincial ministers Saeed Ghani and Imtiaz Shaikh, Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam, Shikarpur SSP Dr Rizwan Ahmed Khan and other relevant officials on a plea seeking the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate allegations of Ghani and Imtiaz providing patronage to criminal elements.

According to petitioner Iqbal Kazmi, SSP Rizwan released reports about Imtiaz and Ghani, alleging the two of providing support to criminals. Citing the report, the plea states that Shaikh heads a criminal wing, which he uses against his opponents, and provides shelter to criminals at his guest houses, farms, fuel stations and shops, adding that call records of Shaikh’s brother and son prove that they too are in touch with criminals. As per the plea, the report also accuses Shaikh of influencing police appointments.

In a separate report, the SSP informed the higher-ups about Saeed Ghani’s brother, Farhan Ghani providing patronage to drug dealers in Chanesar Goth, the plea further mentions.

The petitioner has moved the court to order the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to declare the ministers ineligible to hold seats in the assembly and seeks the formation of a JIT to investigate the accusations levelled against the two.

However, the government lawyer contended the plea, stating that there were separate laws for forming a JIT and declaring ministers ineligible to hold seats in the assembly. He accused the SSP of “leaking an intelligence report and the issuance of orders for his transfer,” adding that “an FIR should be registered against him for this reason.”

The court, however, inquired what action was taken against the SSP for leaking the report. The counsel for the government maintained that making a report public without the approval of relevant authorities was a violation of the law.

Issuing notices to provincial ministers Saeed Ghani and Imtiaz Shaikh, Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam, Shikarpur SSP Dr Rizwan Ahmed Khan and other relevant officials, the court sought their replies on the matter by March 18.

The same bench sought written replies from all bar councils and associations, regarding the reservation of seats for women in bar associations.

During the hearing, Advocate Afroze maintained that male lawyers refrained from casting votes to female candidates.

Conceding that female lawyers were thrice elected in Karachi Bar Association polls, Afroze, at the same time, contended that none of them were elected to serve on high posts. She appealed to the court to reserve seats for women candidates in bar associations.

The court, however, observed that doing so would be in violation of ensuring equal rights for all lawyers.

“Are not we entitled to any rights then?” Afroze argued. She insisted that seats be reserved for women in bar associations as they were reserved in assemblies.

Concluding the hearing, the court sought written replies from bar councils and associations on the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2020.



Reuters Updated February 14, 2020

NEW DELHI: India plans to offer around 6,000 acres of land in held Kashmir as part of a business summit planned for April or May “to help” the disputed region after withdrawing its special rights and making sweeping administrative changes.

Until August, New Delhi termed the India-held Himalayan region as its Jammu and Kashmir state, but then it split off a Buddhist-dominated enclave and designated both as federally-administered territories.

India enforced the changes through a harsh crackdown, deploying thousands of additional troops, imposing a communication blackout and detaining scores of people.

Now the government is offering the land, along with tax breaks and insurance cover, to draw businesses there, according to Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, the disputed region’s commissioner secretary in charge of industry and commerce.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government insists that the reorganisation in August was essential to spur development in Jammu and Kashmir, which is also claimed by Pakistan.

The area is not a particularly industrialised one, with per capita income of Rs62,145 ($870) in 2016-2017, lower than the Indian average of Rs82,229, but better than several states.

More than 1,300 acres of the land offered is in the held Kashmir valley, the centre of a 30-year revolt against Indian rule in the territory, according to an investor presentation.

In some conflict-ridden areas, the government would consider providing security and higher insurance cover to comfort investors, Dwivedi said.

“If we want somebody to come and do business here, taking care of the interest of the businessman is definitely our responsibility,” he said, adding that the government hoped to create 100,000 new jobs.

Land is a sensitive subject in held Kashmir, where outsiders were previously prohibited from buying property because of fears that an influx of people could change its demographics.

A consultant involved with the planned summit said that more than 250 businesses are discussing the possibility of investing under the initiative. These include investments in cement, education and tourism sectors, the consultant said.

However, a former finance minister for Jammu and Kashmir, Haseeb Drabu, described the plan as “absurd” because of the prevailing situation in the territory.

“You need a peaceful environment for investment … today it is very volatile,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020



Editorial February 15, 2020

NOT content with the suffocating conditions prevailing in Kashmir ever since the BJP-led clique in New Delhi annexed the occupied region last year, India’s rulers have now decided to rub further salt in Kashmiris’ wounds. India, it seems, has decided to organise a business summit later this year where investors will be persuaded to put their money in the troubled region; around 6,000 acres have reportedly been made available for this purpose by the Indian state. Though the proposal has been dressed up as an effort to bring jobs and prosperity to India-held Kashmir, no one should be fooled; this is a shameless land grab, an affront to the Kashmiri people where their land is being snatched away from them without their consent to be given to outsiders. In fact, New Delhi seems to be playing from the old colonial playbook, where external forces move in, expropriate land from the locals and then distribute the spoils. Is this how a self-proclaimed democracy functions? Have the Kashmiris been consulted? Obviously not, as the region has been under lockdown since last August. In effect, what the BJP is doing is changing the demographic makeup of Kashmir by settling people from outside. This insidious plot to erase the Kashmiri identity must not be allowed to succeed. Clearly, New Delhi is jittery, as it is offering investors tax breaks and insurance in return for putting their money in IHK. It is obvious that most entrepreneurs would not wish to invest in what is a giant open-air prison, something that has seemingly not occurred to the Indian establishment.

If India is serious about ending the Kashmiris’ suffering, it must lift the siege of IHK, give back Kashmir its autonomous status and start a meaningful dialogue involving the people of the region as well as Pakistan. Cosmetic measures — such as organising a business conference — that are only intended to enhance New Delhi’s stranglehold over IHK will only increase the alienation of the Kashmiris. Unfortunately, the bigoted dispensation at the centre is unlikely to heed sane advice on Kashmir and will continue on its destructive path. This will only add to the misery of the Kashmiris and further vitiate the atmosphere in South Asia. Yet the international community seems to have become numb where this threat to global peace is concerned, as the voices that can censure India’s brutish behaviour, with a few notable exceptions, are silent.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2020




By KHALID ABBAS SAIF on February 3, 2020

Under the Clean and Green Punjab programme on the 300 acres of government land the urban forest has been established in Chak 558 GB Tandlianwala where 300,000 plants of different types being planted in the first phase with the partnership of civil society.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ali inaugurated the urban forest after planting a sapling in the area. Assistant Commissioner Tandalianwala Mohammed Aurangzeb Sindhu, other officers, donors and volunteers were present in large numbers. Deputy Commissioner said that 1.5 million plants would be planted in this forest for which cooperation of civil society was commendable. He said participating in tree plantation was proof that all the sectors and citizens were with the government to make the country clean and green.

The Deputy Commissioner said that a campaign was being implemented across the district in form of a movement in which citizens including all departments are being participated. He said that this vast land was being used for plantation so residents of the area should also contribute to the national cause and protect the plants till they grow.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



Amin Ahmed Updated February 05, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) approved the open auction budding of 27 unproductive land assets owned by the federal government on Tuesday.

The reference price of the 27 land assets is estimated to be over Rs6.5 billion, according to Secretary Privat­isation Comm­ission Rizwan Malik. He further told Dawn that the bidding process would start in March and is expected to be completed by April.

The board of the Privatisation Comm­ission has already designed the transaction structure of the sale of the unproductive land assets which was approved by the cabinet committee meeting, chaired by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, according to an official press release.

There had been 32 unproductive lands owned by federal government entities, of which five were deleted from the list. Out of these, two land assets in Karachi and one in Lahore, valued at more than Rs5 billion, will now be utilised under the Naya Pakistan housing scheme as decided by the government.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020



Tahir Siddiqui Updated February 05, 2020

KARACHI: The municipal administration is learnt to have sought help of the Rangers and Sindh police for retrieving the illegally occupied land of the sewerage farm, better known as Gutter Baghicha.

Sources in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation told Dawn on Tuesday that a group of heavily armed land grabbers had recently occupied 200 acres of the KMC Officers Housing Society and 162 acres of the park on the sewerage farm and the police were not taking any action against the illegal occupants despite registration of an FIR against them.

They said gun-toting land grabbers stormed the office of the KMC Officers Housing Society on Dec 26 last year, beat up the watchmen and occupied the land of the housing society and the adjacent 162 acres meant for establishing a model city park.

The sources said that the KMC authorities immediately approached the Pak Colony police but to no avail as they initially refused to register an FIR against the suspects.

They said the FIR was registered only after the KMC authorities approached the Karachi commissioner.

Suspects have occupied 200 acres of the KMC Officers Housing Society and 162 acres of the park on the sewerage farm

They said Mayor Wasim Akhtar on Tuesday held a meeting with senior KMC officers and decided to immediately inform the Rangers and police high-ups about the land grabbing. The meeting was attended among others by senior director of anti-encroachment Bashir Siddiqui.

While talking to Dawn, the mayor expressed grave concern over the silence and inaction of the police and district administration on the illegal occupation of the Gutter Baghicha land.

He said the municipal administration was taking action against encroachments on official land across the city.

The mayor said the KMC was seeking assistance from the Rangers and police for evicting the armed illegal occupants.

The sources said that the entire land of the Gutter Baghicha, spread over 1,106 acres, had been encroached upon.

They said the land was allotted to the KMC in 1860 under the approval of the viceroy of India and 200 acres of it were allocated for the KMC Officers Housing Society and 162 acres for a park in 1992.

However the matter was delayed owing to a case filed by some non-governmental organisations in court.

Its appellation of ‘gutter’ originates from storm-drainage channels of the Lyari River, which later also carried the sewage from the adjoining areas to the place, then used for growing cereals, green fodder and vegetables.

Located near the city centre, the amenity plot, described in the documents as a “sewage farm”, has been allowed by successive city administrations to be progressively encroached upon for katchi abadis, marble workshops, industrial units and dumping of garbage and filth from different towns of the city.

In numerous government maps and documents over the past 100 years the Baghicha has been shown as ‘Municipal Garden’ and the KMC budget documents of as late as 1993-94 show the income from Gutter Baghicha Park.

Mayor Wasim Akhtar visited the Karachi Zoo on Tuesday with Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saif-ur-Rehman and others to review the training session held in the zoo for its staff.

Zoo director Kanwar Ayub gave a detailed briefing on the training programme that has been arranged to provide them with latest information and techniques on the management of a zoological garden.

The mayor expressed his satisfaction on the training programme and said that this would help the zoo staff perform their duty in a professional way.

He said the KMC was taking all measures to improve the facilities for visitors in the zoo.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020



By ​ Our Correspondent Published: February 5, 2020

LAHORE: Punjab will pay Rs6.28 billion interest annually on loan obtained for the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project.

During 12 years, a huge amount of at least Rs75.36 billion will be paid in interest.

The sources said Punjab’s economy will continue to bear the burden of the project till 2036. With a debt of over Rs953 billion, the Punjab government will pay interest on the first domestic light rail project of $40.62 million annually for 12 years.

The previous provincial government had signed a $1.62 billion contract for the OLMT with a bank. The government did not make details of the contract public despite the demands of the opposition. Even after the multiple directives of the auditor general of Pakistan, the Punjab Mass Transit Authority did not provide the details of the agreement.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2020.



Nasir Iqbal Updated February 06, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ordered the Sindh government to retrieve all encroached land in the province, ensure immediate cancellation of all illegal allotments of forest land and take over their possession.

“No delinquency in this regard shall be tolerated and the chief conservator shall ensure compliance of the court’s orders,” said an order dictated by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed on Wednesday.

The chief justice was heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench, which included Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

The order came on a petition moved by Qazi Ali Athar, an environment attorney, seeking an order to restrain the Sindh government from introducing any scheme in the province’s forests for housing schemes, townships, land distribution, land reforms or other schemes or policies which amounted to deforestation or land possession.

The Supreme Court also ordered the Chief Conservator of Forests, Aijaz Nizamani, to seek assistance from the chief secretary for implementation and compliance of the court’s directive.

If and when such assistance is requested, the apex court said, the chief secretary would ensure that it was provided adequately and without delay.

The court also sought a comprehensive report, to be furnished by the chief conservator, along with the GIS (Geographic Information System) imaginary report, identifying forest lands of the entire province on the next date of hearing.

Sindh’s chief conservator of forests had informed the apex court, during a previous hearing, that out of 2.8 million acres of forest land in the province, 50,000 acres stood encroached upon.

But efforts were being made by the forest department to retrieve the same, the chief conservator said. At the same time he conceded that vast tracts of land had been illegally allotted, putting the blame mainly on the Sindh Revenue Department.

In its order, the court noted that even forest officials appeared to be involved in illegal allotments and occupation of forest land, mostly by individuals in power.

In his petition, Qazi Athar had questioned the departmental action of de-notifying the status of forest cover/land in favour of the Land Utilisation Department, Board of Revenue, in Jan 2012. He had also challenged a 2010 summary prepared by the Sindh chief minister for conversion of the status of “forest” into “revenue land”.

The petition pleaded with the court to declare all forest lands in Sindh — 2,858,748 acres — as a national asset and protected zone. “The forest cover should never be allowed to deplete in any circumstances.”

Qazi Athar prayed for cancellation of all the allotted or leased forest lands and ejection of all land grabbers through an operation.

The petition highlighted a June 19, 2015, decision of the Sindh chief minister to distribute 9,552 acres of land among families of martyred army soldiers on an ownership basis. The chief minister had issued directives to the chief secretary, as well as the forest department, to move a summary for approval of the chief minister for changing the status of forest in Shikarpur district and other areas.

The petition alleged that the Nasri forest of Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah) district was granted to Bahria Town for the development of their third mega project in Nawabshah.

In Karachi, thousands of acres of Kathore Reserve Forests and green belts were allotted to Bahria Town, the petition recalled. This countrywide grabbing of forest lands was of a piece with their previous practice regarding the statutory protected forests of Rawalpindi and Lahore.

The petitioner pleaded for constitution of a judicial commission to probe the organised deforestation or degradation of forests and for the formation of a national forest commission on a permanent basis under the Ministry of Climate Change.

He drew the court’s attention to depletion of mangrove forests along the coast in Karachi, Badin and Thatta.

Qazi Athar had contended that the conversion of statutory protected forests and natural forests help check carbon emissions.

He prayed to the court to order the Sindh government to cancel the Sindh Agro-Forestry Policy of 2004 so that a comprehensive forest rehabilitation and protection programme could be thrashed out in consultation with all stakeholders.

The apex court should direct the provincial government, the petitioner urged, to conduct GIS mapping of total forest cover of Sindh or through satellite conservation purposes on a quarterly basis.

The forest and wildlife department should be ordered to demarcate or carry out digital mapping of forest land under the supervision of a district and sessions judge, Qazi Athar said.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2020



Naeem Sahoutara Updated February 07, 2020F

KARACHI: Correspondence is under way between the National Accountability Bureau and the Pakistan Air Force, which is willing to refund the amount collected from the affectees of the Fazaia Housing Scheme Karachi (FHSK) and to further settle all liabilities in that regard.

This was stated by investigating officer Aslam Pervaiz Abro in a report regarding progress in the probe into an alleged Rs18 billion housing society scam submitted to administrative judge of the accountability courts Farid Anwar Qazi.

The report mentioned that two detained suspects — Tanvir Ahmed and Bilal Tanvir of Maxim Properties — were involved in cheating the public in the name of the FHSK, which they alleged was illegally launched in a joint venture with the Pakistan Air Force in 2015.

The report stated that the PAF had already submitted an application to the federal anti-graft watchdog for refund to the affectees and was further willing to settle all liabilities. It added that notices had been repeated to all the PAF officers involved in planning and execution of the FHSK project.

Notices have been reissued to all PAF officers involved in the project

“PAF has sold out the units to its own employees, Tanvir Ahmed and Bilal are responsible for the sale of the housing units to the general public and have collected Rs18 billion,” said the report.

Defence counsel for the suspects Ravi Panjani contended that NAB was targeting only his clients, but no action was being taken against the others involved in the alleged scam.

Special public prosecutor Shahbaz Sahotra produced some documents before the court and informed it that correspondence between the NAB and PAF authorities was under way with regard to refund and settlement of liabilities.

In the report, the IO said that both builders had not yet determined the number of the housing units to be built on the land designated for the FHSK, adding that they started a massive advertising campaign to lure the public into subscribing membership of the society in connivance with their other accomplices.

It further stated that the FHSK was not registered with any government agency, but the builders sold 160,000 forms of the society against Rs1,000 each or even more.

The suspects unfairly charged the public Rs1,548,870,000 at the time of registration as refundable amount and had been drawing bank profit on the amount till date, but failed to refund Rs402,080,000, it added.

The report mentioned that the physical inspection of Site-I conducted with the assistance of technical experts to verify the builders’ claim of expenditures showed that they had planned to build 2,804 luxury flats in 25 mammoth towers and high-rise buildings in 2015 with a commitment to complete the project by 2020.

However, the inspection showed that not a single apartment had been built on ground in more than four years despite collecting Rs18bn from the people in the name of development work, it said, adding that regrettably even less than four per cent work had been done. The suspects collected money from the public for booking 2,630 standard apartments and 2,649 bungalows on 269 acres of land at Site-II, which was yet to be inspected.

The report stated that during the accounts analysis to track the outflow it was found that Rs2.366bn was illegally withdrawn by the detained builders who had done jugglery of the transactions to camouflage the money trail. They deceptively transferred funds from one bank account to 36 other accounts, the report said, adding that the complex layering of the funds by them showed their intention to launder the proceeds of crime and its subsequent integration as legitimate funds.

The report mentioned that 23 bank accounts of the detained suspects had recently been unearthed in addition to the previous 36 bank accounts, which needed to be examined to trace Rs2.3bn of the public.

Mr Sahotra said the technical analysis of the bank accounts, project site inspection and verification of the claims of the affectees were required to be conducted. Therefore, a 14-day extension in the physical remand of the suspects in the custody of NAB was required to complete the interrogation and investigation.

Allowing the request, the judge granted 12-day further remand of the suspects in NAB custody with the direction to the IO to produce them on the next date with a progress report.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2020



By ​ Our Correspondent Published: February 7, 2020

KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed ordered authorities on Thursday to restore Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) within a week and remove all encroachments from the route.

The circular railway is a looping network of several stations that was expected to connect various parts of the city. Almost two decades ago, the transit project was abandoned. Since then, the railway land has been encroached upon or illegally occupied by people looking for a piece of land in the burgeoning megacity.

A three-member bench, presided by CJP Gulzar and comprising Justices Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah, heard the case pertaining to the restoration of KCR in the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry. Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon, Mayor Wasim Akhtar and Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah appeared before the court.

The court also issued a contempt notice to Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani over his remarks of not removing the encroachments, and ordered Karachi commissioner Iftikhar Shalwani to remove all encroachments from land belonging to Pakistan Railways.

When Justice Gulzar inquired about the progress made in KCR’s restoration, the Sindh advocate general replied that it was ‘impossible’ to restore the old KCR.

“There were 24 [KCR] gates, most of which are encroached,” he said, adding that the land was to be provided by the railways ministry.

However, the railways secretary said the ministry was completing its responsibilities and was not responsible for delays in the project.

At this, the CJP observed that even though the ministry had not done its job according to the agreement, “what have you [the Sindh authorities] done?”

Turning to the mayor, he asked, “What have you done until now? You are the real head of Karachi. Whether it is the Railway Housing Society or petrol pumps, demolish whatever is in the way. We need KCR to be restored in its original form.”

Ordering the railways secretary to submit relevant documents, the court warned that if it was not satisfied, everyone involved would be handed contempt notices.

As the same bench conducted a hearing pertaining to mega transport projects in the city, the CJP stated that no permission would be granted for construction for the Green Line bus rapid transit (BRT) project on land reserved for parks or amenities.

“Where do the buses in Karachi go? I had heard that 500 buses were brought in for the inauguration – where did they go the next day?” he asked.

Mayor Akhtar said that several buses had become useless, upon which the chief justice expressed displeasure.

Meanwhile, the project’s chief executive officer Sualeh Farooqui told the court that the Green Line BRT’s infrastructure was completed in 2018, adding that it was built on Japanese models.

“That is Japan, but this is Karachi,” remarked Justice Gulzar. “Will you spend Rs1 billion to run a single bus? The project could worsen the city’s situation.”

Farooqui responded that the project was approved as per its plans. At this, the CJP, expressing concern that it would create gridlocks in the city, asked him when it would be completed.

Farooqui replied that it would be done in a year by March 2021, while the necessary buses would also arrive at that point.

Justice Gulzar asked how the Green Line would run on MA Jinnah Road. “What visions are you showing [the people]?”

The court ordered that no amenity plots should be affected by the project, adding that it would not give permission for the Green Line BRT to cross any parks or amenity plots.Building parks on CAA land

The bench further gave orders to build parks at the Civil Aviation Sport Complex and Neher-e-Khayam.

During a hearing pertaining to the allotment of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) land, the CAA director general told the court that permission to build a squash complex was granted but the land was withdrawn in 2013.

“The land is vacant; why don’t you build a park?” Justice Gulzar remarked, adding that a park would also be built at Neher-e-Khayam. He gave orders for construction within six months.

When the CAA director-general protested that the area had high commercial value, the chief justice replied that the airport was enough for commercial value.

During another hearing, the court ordered the demolition of boundary walls around the Muslim Gymkhana and the YMCA ground.

While the Muslim Gymkhana lawyer argued that it was inappropriate to demolish the wall due to security, Justice Gulzar asked, “Are there problems of security in parks? Does the polo ground nearby have high walls?”

In his remarks, he remarked that the public should be able to see the Muslim Gymkhana building. He added that if court orders were not adhered to, contempt proceedings would be initiated against the Muslim Gymkhana elected body.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Shalwani told the court that illegal occupation of parks had been removed and commercial activities and wedding ceremonies terminated at the YMCA, adding that they were making a hockey ground there.

The court ordered tree plantation at the YMCA ground and the demolition of its boundary wall, to be replaced with an iron fence.



By ​ Our Correspondent Published: February 7, 2020

LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) continued its operation against illegal housing societies and demolished various structures near Sheikhupura district on Thursday.

Officials of the Estate Management Directorate of private housing schemes conducted raids under supervision of Director Bushra Naseer. LDA staff demolished illegally constructed infrastructure, including office buildings, roads, greenbelts, sewerage system and boundary walls, in Hiran Minar City, Bilal Motorway City, Green Valley, New Civil Lines, Mansoora City, Ajwa Garden Housing Scheme and Almakkah City Housing Scheme.

The authority says it has expedited action against illegal housing societies to safeguard the interest of investors and the general public. The authority has also collaborated with the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to curb deceptive marketing campaigns by private property developers.

The commission has recently initiated suo motto action under Section 37(1) of the Competition Act, 2010 against illegal housing schemes involved in deceptive marketing because the LDA director general had raised concern about this ongoing illegal activity in the provincial capital. The commission is conducting an inquiry to protect citizens from investing in illegal housing societies.

A spokesperson for the CCP highlighted that taking notice of the widespread concerns and complaints regarding the prima facie deceptive marketing practices by various housing schemes in Punjab, the commission had launched an inquiry to see whether they had violated Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010.

The LDA sated in a letter that 88 housing schemes in Lahore and adjoining districts of Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib were luring investors and the general public through print and TV advertisements to invest in their schemes, without meeting the legal requirements and in violation of the relevant laws. The authority sought a ban on the advertising campaigns of these schemes.

Taking suo motu notice of the complaints and concerns, the CCP has authorised an inquiry team to thoroughly probe affairs of the schemes and submit a report. As part of the investigation, the inquiry team has visited 62 housing schemes to see the situation on the ground and is scheduled to visit the remaining schemes. The team has also met the LDA DG and other officials concerned to explore ways to cooperate and coordinate in the areas of shared interests.

Section 10 of the Competition Act prohibits businesses from indulging in deceptive marketing practices, which also include the dissemination of false or misleading information lacking reasonable basis, deceiving the consumers and harming the business interests of other undertakings. If the violation of Section 10 is proved against the housing schemes, the CCP may issue show cause notices to them under Section 30 of the Competition Act.

The CCP is mandated under the Competition Act to ensure free competition in all spheres of commercial and economic activity, to enhance economic efficiency and to protect consumers from anti-competitive behaviour, including deceptive marketing practices.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2020.



Ishaq Tanoli Updated February 08, 2020

KARACHI: The Supreme Court directed the federal authorities on Friday to take action against unauthorised constructions and encroachments in Karachi’s PNT Colony, Delhi Colony and Punjab Colony and asked the Sindh government to carry out planned development work at Nehr-i-Khayyam in Clifton.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, expressed resentment over the federal and provincial authorities for not properly implementing its May 2019 order regarding the removal of encroachments and unauthorised buildings.

Advocate General Salman Talibuddin submitted that the Sindh government had already constituted a committee, comprising town planners and other experts, which was working to give suggestions regarding unauthorised buildings in Karachi and rehabilitation of affected people. He apprised the bench that a cabinet committee was examining an initial report submitted by the town planners’ committee.

About the Nehr-i-Khayyam development plan, the AG said the Sindh government was about to launch the project when some people approached the Sindh High Court and obtained a stay order.

All buildings apart from residential quarters of govt be removed from PNT Colony, bench directs attorney general

Observing that such practices were stopping development work, the apex court allowed the Sindh government to start the project, but restrained it from any commercial activity at the project site till the completion of the work.

The bench then directed the SHC to dispose of the matters regarding Nehr-i-Khayyam.

About the people displaced during the anti-encroachment drive, which was launched to get the land of Karachi Circular Railways vacated, the advocate general informed the apex court that around 6,000 people were affected and it was necessary to rehabilitate them.

The chief justice said it was the government’s responsibility to relocate the affected people. He said the Sindh government should accommodate them and also make necessary legislation, if required.

The AG contended that the provincial government was working on it, but complained that the federal government had not released its promised share of around Rs100 billion to the Sindh government.

Justice Faisal Arab, also a member of the bench, asked the provincial law officer where they were going to relocate these people as “you have sold out almost the entire city”.

The advocate general submitted that the proposed plan would be placed before the court and would be implemented with court’s permission.

The bench took exception to non-compliance of its earlier order about unauthorised constructions and encroachments in PNT Colony, Delhi Colony and Punjab Colony and directed the federal authorities to clear its land.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted that these colonies were located on the federal government land and apparently it was leased out to people and they approached the high court and obtained stay orders.

The bench observed that since the land belonged to the federal government, nobody had the authority to lease it to private persons and directed the authorities to remove the unlawful multi-storey buildings and encroachments.

The chief justice noted that when the PNT department had already been dissolved what was the purpose of PNT Colony. The federal law officer contended that employees of Pakistan Post and PTCL had been residing in the residential quarters.

The SC said all buildings apart from the residential quarters of the government should be removed from PNT Colony.

The bench was informed that Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) was also claiming ownership of the land and had moved a petition before the SHC.

An official of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) admitted before the SC bench that unauthorised buildings were being raised in Delhi Colony.

At this point, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, another member of the bench, came down hard on the CBC officer and said that they allowed these constructions and collected millions of rupees.

The chief justice expressed displeasure over officials for not properly managing the government land and observed that if he called and examined the record of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), most of them might be found unauthorised.

He deplored that around 55 per cent city areas comprised kutchi abadis and the relevant authorities were responsible for it.

When the bench asked the federal law officer to get these areas vacated, he sought time to sit with the provincial authorities, officials of contentment boards and others concerned to ‘resolve’ the issue. The court granted time to the attorney general and directed him to submit the compliance report at the next hearing.

The attorney general further said that they could not remove the kutchi abadis immediately as arrangements were needed for resettlement of affected people.

The bench directed the Pakistan Railways to turn its two amenity plots at Kalapul into parks.

A law officer of the railways informed the SC that both plots belonged to Pakistan Railways and one of them was leased out to the National Medical Centre in 2017 for three years for a car park.

The chief justice observed that the NMC should arrange its own parking and said both the plots be converted into parks within three months and its surrounding walls must also be replaced with iron grills.

The SC directed the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to dismantle the structure of wedding halls located on its planetarium on University Road till Saturday.

When the general manager (law) of PIA informed the bench that as per its earlier order, the wedding functions were no more held at its planetarium, the chief justice said the structure was still there and directed the relevant authorities to dismantle it immediately.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2020



Ishaq Tanoli February 08, 2020

KARACHI: Declaring that the allotment of land on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road for the Karachi Port Trust Cooperative Housing Society was illegal, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the KPT chairman to ensure plantation of mangroves on the said land within two months.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed observed that the land was provided to the KPT only for the purpose of management and operations of the port and any lease made in favour of its trustees or employees was illegal.

The bench in its May 2019 order observed: “The land on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road was full of mangroves at one time with passage of sea water, now there is barren land and passage of sea water has been blocked. The chairman shall ensure that plantation of mangroves is made on both sides of the Mai Kolachi Road and flow of sea water is restored touching Bath Island area.”

When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, the KPT chairman and his lawyers argued against the earlier order and submitted that the lease was made in accordance with the KPT Act of 1886.

Court rules KPT cannot lease land to its trustees, employees; mangrove plantation on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road ordered

After hearing Advocate Ali Zafar, who advanced his arguments from the apex court’s Lahore registry through a video link, Advocate Yawar Farooqui, KPT chairman and the attorney general (AG) at length, the bench observed that its last order was still intact as nothing had come on record against it.

It further noted that the purpose of the land was only for management and operations of the port and the KPT cannot allot or lease the land to any trustee or employee.

The bench stated that the KPT chairman submitted that the federal government had allowed the organisation to lease the land, but such permission was not supportable under the law.

The AG also admitted that a cooperative housing society could not be permitted on such a land, the bench said and directed the KPT chairman to implement its earlier order within two months.

It further observed that with regard to the encroachments on other lands of the KPT, it can take action in accordance with the law.

In may be recalled that in its May 9 judgement, the apex court had also observed, “The chairman KPT is directed to be present in court on next date with report signed by him that all port lands are used for port purposes and in accordance of the KPT Act, no land whatsoever of the port is either sold/transferred, leased, or transfer, allotted to any person or its employee and whatever allotment, lease or transfer has taken place to immediately cancel and revert back the same to the port”.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2020



Faiza Ilyas Updated February 08, 2020

KARACHI: Chronic neglect by successive governments towards fundamental human needs, primary healthcare and preventive healthcare strategies including infection control practices explains why Pakistan has failed miserably to show improvement in the health sector. In fact, matters have gone from bad to worse in areas lacking proper sanitation and refuse disposal mechanisms.

These points were raised at a press conference held at the PMA House on Friday for the launch of a report titled Health of the Nation.

The report highlights the country’s poor health indicators including its high maternal and infant mortality rates, slow progress on stunting and wasting, neglect towards mental health, weak healthcare system and a growing rise in the burden of diseases mainly due to lack of basic facilities, such as supply of clean drinking water, sanitation, primary healthcare services and environmental degradation.

The Health of the Nation report has suggested govt focus on preventive, primary healthcare

“Clean drinking water is not available to 90 per cent of the population. This is the cause of many gastrointestinal infections, hepatitis A and hepatitis E, typhoid, polio (it can spread through drinking water if it’s contaminated with the stool of an infected person) and other diseases.

“Typhoid is now a big problem in Pakistan particularly in Sindh due to antibiotic resistance. This phenomenon is a looming disaster not just for developing countries but also for developed nations,” the report said.

The report looks into the factors contributing to antibiotic resistance in local settings and said that there were so many elements instrumental to this menace including quackery, irrational use of antibiotics, spurious drugs, availability of drugs over the counter without prescription, self-medication and the role of pharmaceutical industry offering lucrative deals to doctors against (specific) prescription.

The polio infection, according to the report, remains endemic despite over 100 rounds of vaccination being carried out in the past decade. Pakistan is one of the two remaining countries in the world where polio still exists, the other is Afghanistan.

“Our polio programme has deteriorated badly; during the year 2019 as many as 144 cases of polio have been reported as compared to 12 cases in 2018. Till now, seven cases have been reported in 2020,” the report said.

It also speaks about the “alarming increase” in the cases of dog bite and snake bite in the second half of 2019 in Sindh, causing loss of many lives because of non-availability of vaccines or inappropriate medical care.

The report also focused on dengue and said that more than 50,000 cases of this viral infection had been reported by the end of 2019 with death toll crossing 100.

“And these are only reported cases. We believe that an equal or more number of these cases had remained unreported. Such outbreaks have had been reported from other countries but they managed to overcome the challenge with the help of scientific guidelines. But, we persistently refuse to learn.”

Suggesting solutions, the report points to the fact that developed countries as well as many low-income countries had been able to eradicate many diseases by just putting in place effective vaccination and immunisation programmes.

“But, in Pakistan, our polio programme faces hardships mainly due to lack of political will, misconceptions and lack of awareness. To address this, it is important that (the government involve) each political and religious party along with civil society and the media in campaigns on vaccination and immunisation programme.”

The report recommends that the government invest more in disease prevention. “By just providing clean drinking water, we can prevent 60 per cent of diseases and if we could eliminate breeding grounds of mosquitoes, we can prevent all mosquito-borne diseases that currently constitute 40 per cent of our total disease burden.”

Speaking at the presser, PMA representatives including Dr Ikram Ahmed Tunio, Dr Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Qazi Mohammad Wasiq and Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro demanded that the government restore Pakistan Medical & Dental Council as an autonomous, democratic, transparent and vibrant body comprising elected and nominated members as per the 1962 ordinance.

“We also demand inclusion of stakeholders like PMA and Pakistan Dental Association and complete overhauling of medical education and training of doctors according to recent trends in the world. We need adequate health budgets with assurance that allocated amount will be spent with honesty,” they said.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2020