State land worth Rs210bn retrieved from qabza mafia enjoying PML-N leaders' patronage in Punjab: Akbar

Published January 31, 2021
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar addresses a press conference on details of state land recovered from alleged land grabbers in Punjab. — DawnNewsTV
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar addresses a press conference on details of state land recovered from alleged land grabbers in Punjab. — DawnNewsTV

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar said on Sunday that the government had retrieved 8,085 acres of illegally occupied state land worth Rs210 billion through reclamation operations against the qabza mafia in Punjab.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Akbar also revealed the names of 36 politicians affiliated with the PML-N, who he alleged were either complicit with the land grabbers or directly part of the mafia.

Sharing details about the Khokhar brothers, he alleged that they had illegally occupied state land of 1,000 kanals in Sheikhupura district worth Rs70 million. He further added that 45 kanals of their "spectacular [Khokhar] palace" was private property, which they had occupied and judicial proceedings were ongoing against them.

"The worth of the illegally occupied government land which was reclaimed from them by the revenue department is Rs1.5bn," said Akbar, further adding that property of 80 kanals and four marlas, worth Rs3bn, was recovered from them two months ago.

Akbar similarly shared details for the Nahra brothers and revealed that state property of 267 kanals and one marla was retrieved from them, worth Rs0.1bn. "They were charged a penalty of Rs25m for the use of state property in this period and they have to pay compensation for that."

MNA Khurram Dastgir Khan, Akbar alleged, had setup a CNG and petrol station on government land worth Rs92.5m which was retrieved by the government and a public park was later made on it. He said the people of Gujranwala had "witnessed" this retrieval and conversion to a public amenity. The penalty for this property was Rs37m for which proceedings have started and a first information report (FIR) has also been submitted according to the PM's adviser. He added that another one kanal of state property, worth Rs60m was also retrieved.

From Senator Chaudhry Tanveer Khan, there were successful retrievals of benami property worth Rs7bn and a further 27 kanals of state land, worth Rs1bn. Akbar added that 2,400 kanals of state land in Sargodha with a worth of Rs2.5bn was also retrieved from PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz and "he has to give a penalty of Rs48m for it".

The PM's adviser also named MNA Javed Latif and said he "screams a lot but these are his actions". He said the following recoveries of state land had been made from him: Eight kanals and two marlas in a flour mill, an illegal wagon adda in Sheikhapura and 30 kanals and 16 marlas in a paper mill. Akbar added Latif had a plaza on the highway too, which would soon be reclaimed.

MNA Ehsanul Haq Bajwa was in alleged control of 664 kanals of state property with a value of Rs1.25bn. This was reclaimed too, according to Akbar. Former MNA Sohail Shaukat Butt was in possession through an intermediary of an illegal petrol pump built on seven marlas which was also successfully reclaimed.

Akbar also counted other names of PML-N leaders from whom either successful recoveries were made or would be made in the future. They are as follows:

  • PML-N leader Malik Mazhar Rasheed Khan (25 acres of Auqaf property with a worth of Rs37m),
  • Former MPA Mir Badshah Qaisrani (10,000 kanals from 33,000 kanals of agricultural land with a worth of Rs1bn)
  • Former MPA Mir Badshah Qaisrani (10,000 kanals from 33,000 kanals of agricultural land with a worth of Rs1bn)
  • Ijaz Ahmed (1,732 kanals with a worth of Rs0.5bn which will be retrieved),
  • Former MPA Sher Ali Khan Gorchani (1,200 kanals from 7,500 kanals of forest land with a worth of Rs1.25bn)
  • Former MNA Abid Sher Ali (11 acres of state property on Jhang road with a worth of Rs2bn)
  • Javed Hashmi's son-in-law (60 acres of agricultural land of Auqaf property)
  • Maiza Hameed's husband (70 acres of land of irrigation department with a worth of Rs0.1bn).

He said that the summary of the findings showed there was a "whole process" through which these individuals and land grabbers usurped and made use of state property by erecting plazas, markets, cinemas, housing societies and more on them.

"All this screaming and shouting, this is the reality behind it," he said.

'Low hanging fruit'

Referring to the land recoveries as a "low hanging fruit", Akbar said big proceedings on corruption and major criminal offences were still left.

He said the purpose behind the retrieval of state property "is to take back our resources and [use them] to work for national welfare which the government wants to deliver".

He cited the government's universal health coverage project as an example of a development project on which the recovered resources could be spent or in other avenues like education. The recovered Rs210bn could "very easily give health coverage to the whole of Punjab", he added.

The adviser praised the Punjab government, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and the Anti-Corruption Department in particular, noting "the performance of Anti-Corruption Department has been outstanding in the past one to two years since we came. The recoveries they have done and the vigour they have shown [has been excellent]."

"You know what collusions take place here and this work wasn't easy; there were many obstacles but the administration and leaders in Punjab made no compromises and continued this drive which will continue further."

He said these were just 36 individuals and there were still more people from whom state property would be reclaimed. He called on the people of Punjab to play their part in the operation by reporting any illicit activity or land grabbing on the mobile application launched in Punjab for reporting corruption.

"You can see the state of the qabza mafia and their screams. This will continue in the upcoming years and if we get re-elected then in the next five years."

Akbar stressed that the government had no "favourites or targets" in these reclamation operations, saying: "Wherever there has been land grabbing of state-owned land or any injustice, it has to be retrieved since it is the state's property."

He said the government had never accused all members of opposition parties as being complicit in land grabbing. "There are certain bad fishes and groups which we want to catch," he added.

The adviser said if any person from the government or PTI was found involved in land grabbing by the media, "no relief will be given to them".

'Politics of vision and rules'

Akbar said the PTI-led government believed in the "politics of vision and rules" and it had proved that by expelling 20 of its members after they were found guilty of taking Rs50m for horse-trading in the 2018 Senate elections by an investigation committee.

"This politics of money, looting, qabza, Changa Manga ... its time has come to an end."

In contrast, he said, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif "can't tell what his ideology is".

Akbar said Nawaz's politics was based on two fundamentals: "politics of money and politics of qabza".

He said the purpose of the opposition's Pakistan Democratic Movement was nothing more than "self-defence and protection of personal interests" such as the "land grabbing and looting of resources this political class did".

Addressed the opposition, he said if they wanted to prove their perspective was of "proper visionary politics" then they should come and vote for the constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly about open ballot in the upcoming Senate polls.

"If the opposition doesn't come together on this then they should explain their logic to the nation and this means they want to be involved in horse-trading."

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