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ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Accountability Bureau (NAB) has launched a probe into the alleged wrongdoings of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz in his three mega projects in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal ordered the anti-graft watchdog to start investigations against Bahria Town Karachi, Bahria Town Lahore and Bahria Town Rawalpindi in the light of recent decisions of the Supreme Court.

The chairman directed the respective directors general of NAB in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi to complete the investigations within three months.

Take a look: Bahria Town Karachi: Greed unlimited

He said the decision of the Supreme Court should be implemented in letter and spirit. The chairman was quoted as saying: “No laxity in implementing the decision of the Supreme Court would be tolerated.”

Bureau officials given three months to complete investigations

On May 4, the Supreme Court barred the owner of Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plot or build-up unit from the housing sch­eme it launched in the city.

It also ordered NAB, which had earlier initiated an inquiry into the matter, to pick up from where it had left off and take its investigations to its logical end within three months from the date of the announcement of the judgement.

Read more: Projects like Bahria Town ‘are atom bombs for the poor’

NAB was also told to investigate the case and file references against all those found responsible for committing, aiding and abetting the crime at any level or in any form.

The apex court had taken up a number of petitions involving the grant of 9,385-acre land in 43 Dehs — about nine kilometres from Toll Plaza on the Karachi-Hyderabad Superhighway and a 25-minute drive from the Jinnah International Airport — to the Bahria Town Karachi in 2015.

The land was granted for the launch of an incremental housing scheme. However, the MDA instead of launching the scheme exchanged it with the Bahria Town through its henchmen to allow the latter to launch a scheme of its own. The allegations levelled in the petitions moved before the apex court said the government land value was far higher than the value of the private land it was exchanged for.

The apex court ordered that the government land would go back to the government and the land of Bahria Town exchanged for the government land would go back to the real estate firm.

On the same day, the Supreme Court had declared that the area of Takht Pari located six kilometres from the Rawalpindi city near GT Road encompasses 2,210 acres and not 1,741 acres.

Therefore, the exchange of land purportedly encroa­ched by the Bahria Town and the Punjab forest depar­tment was based on erroneous assumption about the area.

The court had taken up a number of cases involving the encroachment of the forest land in Rawalpindi.

At one stage it was concluded that the area measuring 1,170 kanals of the forest was found to have been encroached by the Bahria Town and an area measuring 765 kanals of the Bahria Town was found to have been encroached by the forest department and that the area thus found to have been encroached was not only accepted by one another but mutations witnessing exchange of the said areas were also entered and attested.

A NAB statement issued on Monday said: “Investiga­tion against Bahria Town Lahore may also be started.”

Inquiry against housing minister, PPP MNA ordered

In a separate decision, the NAB chief ordered the Rawalpindi NAB director general to conduct complaint verification against Housing and Works Minister Akram Khan Durrani in alleged illegal appointments of the people of his constituency belonging to Bannu against all vacant posts in violation of merit and laid down rules and regulations.

The chairman also direc­ted the Sukkur NAB DG to conduct complaint verification against Pakistan Peoples Party leaders MNA Mehreen Bhutto, Asif Bhutto, Kashif Bhutto and Arif Bhutto for allegedly having assets beyond known sources of income.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2018