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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday said revenue officers and the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) officials extended undue favours to former president Asif Ali Zardari’s Park Lane Estate Company by handing it over 118 kanals of forest land.

A NAB statement says that Asif Ali Zardari and his son, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari own 50pc of the shares of Park Lane Estate Company.

NAB has said that during an inquiry it was found that revenue and CDA officials “illegally extended undue benefit to M/s Park Lane Company through demarcation and handing over possession of 118 kanal 14 marlas of forest land”.

The accountability bureau said that revenue officials forged and tampered with the revenue record while CDA officers misused their authority to hand over possession of state land to the company.

Revenue officials forged revenue record, CDA officers misused authority to hand over 118 kanals of state land to former president’s company

The investigation agency said that the inquiry was authorised against officials of CDA, the company and others based on allegation of the illegal transfer of the land in compartment no. 34 and 35 of the Punjab Forest Department.

NAB said the manager, attorney holder and director of Park Lane Estate Company were repeatedly summoned and that they wilfully avoided joining NAB proceedings.

Last year, Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, who was heading CDA then, requested the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to get the 118 kanals of state and forest land vacated from the company.

According to CDA officials, in 2012, 118.4 kanals of Islamabad reserve forest land in Sangjani was given to the company on the basis of an allegedly vague demarcation.

The CDA later challenged the demarcation before the collector court and in 2015, the collector set aside the 2012 demarcation, reverting the land in question to the state.

But the company filed an appeal before the same court and in Sept 2016, the collector ordered a fresh demarcation.

“Park Land Estate Company may also be directed to vacate the state land (118 kanal, 14 marla) as the previous demarcation of the ICT revenue staff has been set aside by the Addl. Collector (Revenue), ICT Islamabad,” the CDA chief’s letter to the chief commissioner says.

It goes on to say that in compliance with the orders passed by the collector’s court, dated Sept 29, 2016, a committee comprising of officers of ICT revenue, CDA Land and Planning Directorate, Punjab Forest Department and the Survey of Pakistan was constituted to complete the re-demarcation of the land as the previous demarcation conducted by the ICT on April 19, 2012 had been set aside.

“It is to inform that after a lapse of considerable time, the ICT revenue department has taken no action for the re-demarcation of the subject land,” the letter says.

A few days ago, NAB summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to appear before the bureau in Rawalpindi on Dec 13 in connection with the case.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Khan Babar explained that Bilawal had been asked to respond to questions related to the purchase and demarcation of a plot in Islamabad by Park Lane Estates, which is owned by Asif Zardari, as Bilawal’s name was mentioned as a “minority shareholder” in the company

He said the company had been set up by Mr Zardari in 1989 when the PPP chairman was a year old. Mr Babar said the main purpose of summoning Bilawal was to hold his media trial.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad/CDA Director Environment Irfan Niazi said that last month, the Environment Wing had taken over the land in question from the said company. He said that during a fresh demarcation by Survey of Pakistan recently, it transpired that 170 kanals of forest land is in possession of said company which Environment Wing retrieved. He said new markers have been placed there to protect state land.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2018

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