File photo: Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa Photograph:( ANI )
Pakistan Supreme Court comprising of Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan including Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed questioned the country's defence secretary on defence lands being used for commercial purposes.
Pakistan's Supreme Court has come down heavily on the country's military establishment, pointing out that land meant for defence purposes was being misused for commercial activities.
The three-judge bench belonging to the country's top court was hearing a case relating to the illegal use of cantonment board lands in Karachi.
The case relates to the construction of Falcon Mall in Karachi in 2016. The land is under the jurisdiction of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The mall hasn't been opened to the public.
Reports claim the Pakistan Air Force has purportedly changed the structure that was built originally for the mall into a war college institute, as per images on social media.
PAF builds a commercial shopping mall on what’s supposed to be an Air Force base, calls it ‘falcon mall’.— Abdul Moiz Jaferii (@Jaferii) December 21, 2021
Supreme Court says give back land you aren’t using for active military purposes.
PAF labels the mall ‘air war college institute’. pic.twitter.com/36aG9hsF68
The chief justice had ordered the country's defence secretary to appear in court to answer questions related to the case.
Retired Lt Gen Mian Hilal Hussain was questioned by the country's Supreme Court. Hussain, who is the secretary of defence currently, assured the court that cantonment land will not be used for commercial purposes.
The chief justice noted that cantonment lands across the country were being misused including three bases which were reportedly meant for the Pakistan Air Force were being used for commercial activities. Also, wedding halls and hotels were reportedly being constructed at what's supposed to be a naval base.
The court noted that the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) was being converted an "open commercial department store". The court hit out against Hussain for the alleged misuse and asked the government to file a report on cantonment lands which were being illegally used for commercial purposes.
The country's Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan informed the court that a committee has been set up comprising of three service chiefs to look into the land violations. The court called the use of land as a "matter of embarrassment".
The country's apex court reportedly pointed out that army officials had purchased lands and sold it which were then being used by individuals to build houses with no sign of a "garrison" located on lands meant for the defence forces.
(With inputs from Agencies)