PESHAWAR, May 30: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary and three Peshawar administration officials to appear before it on June 23 over the leasing out of the upscale University Town Club’s vast land for 33 years and the subsequent construction of a restaurant and café on it.

Also, the chief secretary, the Peshawar district coordination officer, the town municipal officer of Town III and the University Town chief officer were told to file written comments on the matter within a fortnight.

The directions were issued by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mian Fasihul Mulk during a hearing into petitions against the lease and the construction of restaurant and café on the club’s land.

The bench observed that the four officials would have to explain if they were empowered by the Urban Planning Ordinance to allow commercial activity in a residential area.

It also put on notice TMO Noor Daraz Khattak for contempt by violating its September 4, 2006, order against commercial activities in the residential area.

One petition was filed by deputy attorney general Mohammad Khursheed Khan, while the other was filed by several University Town residents, including member of the Ladies Club located next to the restaurant and café.

Recently, the University Town residents, especially women, demonstrated against construction of restaurant and café on the club land.

Tariq Khan Afridi, lawyer for University Town residents, said the said club consisted of the Ladies Club, tennis and squash courts, walking track and green belt, and that in 2009, the town administration leased out 11 kanals of the club’s land to two people, Faiz Rasool and Tariq Nawaz.

He said Rasool and Nawaz were front men of an influential political family of Peshawar. The lawyer said the club was meant for the recreation of the people, especially women, but the two persons converted its green belt and land into ‘Dewan-i-Khas’ restaurant and ‘Coffee Pot’ café.

He added the said commercial structures had turned out to be a threat to the security of the locality.

Deputy attorney general Khursheed Khan said the a few years ago, the high court had clearly pronounced that commercial activities could not be carried out in residential areas, including University Town, and that all such activities should be stopped in residential areas.

The petitioners said that in 1952 when University Town was planned, all allottees paid for the club, which was to be used for meetings, recreational activities, charity events, funerals.

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