ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Monday decided to obtain record of all land purchases made by foreigners during the last five years.
The decision was made while discussing ‘The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2018 (Amendment of Article 253A)’ moved by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed.
There was a perception that under the bill a person who is not a citizen of Pakistan shall not be entitled to own or purchase immovable property in the country. However, the mover said though foreign investments should be welcomed, it should be ensured that national interest was not compromised.
“No foreigner should be given lease of land for over 20 years because in Pakistan it becomes almost impossible to find record after two decades. After 20 years it should be seen if the lease of land should be extended or not,” Senator Ahmed said.
The meeting was chaired by PML-N Senator Mohammad Javed Abbasi at the committee room of Parliament House.
Mover of bill says no foreigner should be given lease of land for over 20 years because it becomes almost impossible to find record after two decades
Majority of the members were of the view that there should be no bar on foreign citizens from purchasing land in the country after fulfilling all formalities. It was pointed out that a bill could be introduced on the matter if needed and it doesn’t need to be a constitutional amendment. Moreover, the members observed that land was a provincial matter so how it can be dealt by the federal government.
However, Mr Ahmed said a bill on the matter cannot be moved as there was no law regarding purchase of land by foreigners.
“Clause III of Foreigners Act 1946 does not discuss the issue of land for foreigners. Moreover, all issues related to foreigners are in the domain of the federal government. I suggest that the committee should obtain five years record from the concerned departments of all the property purchased by foreigners during the last five years,” he said.
For the satisfaction of the mover, the committee decided to obtain the land record and the procedures followed.
After the meeting, Senator Ahmed told Dawn that foreigners from America, Europe and China purchased a large number of properties in Pakistan.
“Chinese nationals also married Pakistani women and the latter were told that the grooms had property in Pakistan. Though I am not against the foreign direct investment, we should keep national interest in mind,” he said.
“During the last four meetings, I demanded record of land purchased by foreigners but the concerned departments seemed reluctant to provide it,” Mr Ahmed said.
Meanwhile, the government opposed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2018 (Amendment of Article 45) moved by JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq calling for a provision that the president of Pakistan would not exercise this power in cases of punishments awarded under Hudood or Qisas.
The government observed that the president’s power was not just for pardon but also of respite and reviewing other sensitivities.
Five members voted in favour of the bill and two opposed it and the bill was approved.
Article 45 of the Constitution empowers the president to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2020