LAHORE: The allotment of 90 acres of prime land here to former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif sparks a lot of debate despite security establishment’s explanation that there was nothing out of the ordinary about it.

The land in the Bedian Road area has been in focus since rumours first appeared about Gen Raheel being awarded the 90 acres. These were followed by news reports questioning the logic behind the grant of land.

On Tuesday a security establishment official told Dawn there was nothing unusual about the allotment. Over the last few years, the Bedian Road stretch, around where Gen Raheel’s land is located, has turned into a favourite haunt of the moneyed people looking for a privileged farm-house living away from the humdrum of the city. This has sent prices skyrocketing there.

It is believed the entry of an ex-army chief like Gen Raheel Sharif, who had previously donated a plot meant for residential purposes to the army’s martyrs, will enhance the profile of the locality.

As per rules, such allotments to army officials are decided at the General Headquarters (GHQ) and conveyed to the Border Area Committee concerned.

The official said there was “nothing unusual’ about the land allotment. Gen Raheel Sharif was allotted the land “in accordance with the existing rules and purely on merit,” he said.

“It is agricultural land and will be used for this purpose alone. It will not be used for commercial purpose as is the impression being created by some,” the official said in an obvious reference to the stories carried in the media.

The commercial value does not affect the case of Gen Raheel’s land since, as the security establishment officials insist, this agricultural land cannot be transferred.

“Every army chief gets a similar volume of agricultural land on retirement,” the official said, adding the land allotted to Gen Raheel was located some 5km from Lahore’s border area.

About the timing of the allotment of the land to the former army chief that is December 2014, he said: “The process of the allotment of agricultural land begins during the tenure of an army chief and he is given possession upon his retirement.”

The Punjab government’s role in it is minimal. All it does in such cases is register the allotment of property in its revenue record.

“It is the Border Area Committee which secures the land in the radius of 5km of the border and it is allotted to the army martyrs and officials. The Border Area Committee allocates land in collaboration with the General Headquarters (GHQ). The Revenue department of the provincial government maintains its record,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Dawn.

“It is not the discretion of the Punjab government to allot this land to any one,” he added.

Published in Dawn January 25th, 2017

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