ISLAMABAD, June 30: It is said that all is fair in love and war. But to find out how vicious wars can be, the 16-year-old rivalry between the owner of Bahria Town (BT), Malik Riaz Hussain, and a private land developer, Dr Shafiqur Rehman, is illustrative.
The two have accused each other of murder and more. In the latest round, Malik Riaz has been accused of a mind boggling conspiracy which includes the murder of a retired military general to hide his ‘dirty’ deals.
But the story has to be traced to the beginning to make sense.
According to Dr Rehman, his litigation with BT started in 1996 when Riaz, in connivance with the revenue officials of the government of Punjab, allegedly prepared fake documents for the ownership of 900 kanals that belonged to Rehman. This land was adjacent to Bahria Town phase I to VII near G.T. Road Rawalpindi.
A 12 years legal battle ensued which ended when a civil court of Rawalpindi in 2008 decided the matter in favour of Dr Rehman.
But his pleasure was limited for he was dragged into a murder case of Mohammad Fayyaz, a security guard, soon afterwards.
According to Dr Shafiq, Fayyaz was working for BT and after his murder on August 14, 2008 in a clash between the security staff of a private housing scheme, Eden Garden, with the security staff of DHA and BT security officials, Riaz decided to nominate his own rivals for the murder.
Riaz paid the guard’s wife Rs6 million in 2008 and asked her to keep silent; he later paid her another Rs20 million.
Rehman said the FIR of the case was registered on August 14, 2008 by BT’s security supervisor Shaukat Ali; the latter accused 13 employees of Eden Garden as well as 70 unknown people of murdering Fayyaz.
Rehman claimed that after one year of the murder of the security guard, Malik Riaz met him and suggested that he (Rehman) surrender his land. But when Rehman refused, Riaz involved him in Fayyaz’s murder case in September 2008 by identifying him as one of the 70 unknown people who murdered Fayyaz. The identification was made by Shaukat Ali.
According to Shafiq, Riaz had 11 other land owners accused of the murder as well and then purchased their land at cheaper rates.
Shafiq said he was acquitted in 2009 but Riaz published advertisements in the newspapers in which the family of Fayyaz claimed they felt threatened because he had been released. “Malik Riaz wanted the Chief Justice to take suo motu action on the ads,” he added.
The Supreme Court did take notice and Shafiq and other parties concerned were summoned. The case is still pending in the SC.
But this is not the tale of one man’s accusations.
Shafiq too has turned to the legal and judicial system.
On May 30, 2012, he filed an application in the Supreme Court requesting it to take suo motu action against Malik Riaz.
In his application he has accused the tycoon of being behind the death of Lt-Gen Imtiaz Hussain, the former managing director Army Welfare Trust (AWT), Dr Mansur Janjua, a former student of military college Jhelum and a friend of Gen Imtiaz; and Babar Ali Khan, the manager Askari Bank DHA branch who was killed during the drag car race organised by Bahria Town on December 9, 2010.
The application weaves a tale of a conspiracy that is as complicated as a mystery thriller.
Gen Imtiaz, the newspapers had reported, committed suicide in the last week of May. His family had ruled out foul play and said that the death was the result of a suicide. But according to the application, Gen Imtiaz was neither depressed nor did he ever consult any specialist for such an ailment.
The application said Gen Imtiaz procured huge loans from Askari Commercial Bank, an integral part of AWT for DHA Islamabad, on the request of BT and was facilitating transactions between the DHA and BT allegedly through Babar Ali Khan. The application alleges that the benefactors of such land deals need to blame some one because the DHA reportedly is not in a position to return the loans to the bank. Therefore, the application states, they decided to make Gen Imtiaz and Khan the scapegoats and eliminate them.
The application says Gen Imtiaz was murdered by Malik Riaz. It said Gen Imtiaz as the Adjutant General (AG) Army and managing director Army Welfare Trust (AWT) extended undue favours to Riaz in exchange for huge kickbacks.
In addition, it is alleged that the joint venture of DHA Valley signed between DHA, BT and Habib Rafiq Limited on August 16, 2008 was one-sided and that Gen Imtiaz, the then vice chairman of DHA, did not safeguard the interest of his organisation.
According to the application Dr Janjua’s murder was linked to a different land deal.
The application says that Janjua had planned a housing scheme in Sihala but Imtiaz alias Taji Khokhar, the front man of Malik Riaz, handed over the required land to another party. “Because of Mansur’s (Janjua) close association with Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Taji Khokhar and his master Malik Riaz were feeling threatened, therefore, they closed the chapter of his life,” the application adds. The application also predicted that DHA officials based in Islamabad, who had directly or indirectly engaged or benefited BT, may die.
When asked if he had filed the application only to avenge his own treatment at the hands of Riaz, Dr Shafiq said that, “I am neither taking revenge nor taking advantage of the situation. In fact, during 2010 I twice wrote to the COAS and requested him to probe the nexus of Gen Imtiaz with Malik Riaz as their actions damaged the repute of the army in general and the DHA in particular.”
Qaisar Qadeer Qureshi, BT’s legal adviser, said an application filed by a party because of old enmity had no legal value; he added that those who had raised the allegation would have to prove them in court.
He said the application lacked credibility and is aimed to distract the court from the murder case of the security guard. “When we receive the notices, then after studying the nature of the allegations and examining the evidence placed on the court record we will file our reply.”