Supreme Court of Pakistan. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the Defence Secretary on Thursday to verify claims made by military authorities while branding a Swat resident a terrorist.

A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken up a petition of Abdul Ghaffar Khan seeking to reclaim his ancestral farmland and gardens he had left behind while leaving as an internally displaced person when the operation 'Rah-i-Rast' was launched by security forces against Taliban terrorists in Swat.

The petitioner said he owned 500 kanals of agricultural land and gardens in the revenue estate of Kota in Tehsil Barikot.

The Supreme Court issued the directive to the defence secretary after District Officer Revenue submitted a report denying that military authorities had occupied the land, but asserting that the petitioner and his son were terrorists.

The next date of hearing is Jan 23.

Advocate Sanaullah Zahid, the counsel of the petitioner, rejected the allegations that his client was a terrorist and said he was a patriotic Pakistani and even last month some of his property had been auctioned.

The court ordered the defence secretary to furnish evidence if the petitioner was really a terrorist and to state in which case he was wanted.

The petitioner said he owned 3,000 trees of peach, apricot and plum, but he and members of his family, known as Khan Koori in their native area, were not permitted to enter their ancestral house, look after their property, conduct their business, carry out farming or maintain fruit trees.

To prove his credentials as a patriotic and peace-loving citizen, the petitioner said he had served as an in-charge of a checkpost called Lunda-ki in Swat for 18 years.

Later, he said, he joined the local chapter of Jamaat-i-Islami as its chief and became the president of the Kissan Board in Swat district. He was twice elected the member of the union council and later as the chairman of the Moosa Khel union council.

His younger son, Fawad Ali, is a doctor and runs a charity hospital owned by anNGO named Islamic Relief International in Bagh, AJK, the petition said. His younger brother is a doctor who had graduated from the King Edward Medical College (now university) in Lahore.

He said his entire family, including women, provided relief to victims of the 2005 earthquake.

People of Swat had to leave their homes and businesses after security forces launched the Rah-i-Raast operation, the petitioner said, adding that he also had to leave with his family and got registered as IDPs with the Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees, Ministry of State and Frontier Regions in Peshawar.

Although most of the IDPs had returned to their areas, the petitioner said he and his family members were being denied the right to enter their ancestral place.

The apparent reason, the petitioner said, was that the brother-in-law of his son Mohammad Saleem, known as Commander Younus, was involved in some anti-state activities and was wanted by security forces.

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