CJP assails Sindh govt over disinterest
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday expressed displeasure at the Sindh government’s disinterest in recovering hundreds of thousands of acres of illegally allotted and grabbed land in a case pertaining to deforestation in Karachi. The chief justice, while heading a three-member bench in Islamabad today, asked if any measures were taken by the provincial government regarding its forest land. “Seventy thousand acre land has been leased illegally,” Sindh’s additional advocate general told the top judge, adding that demarcation of forest land was underway. When Justice Ijazul Ahsan enquired how Bahria Town got hold of forest land, the petitioner, Qazi Athar, said that the property developer was given 11,000 acres of forest land in Karachi and another 4,000 acres in Nawabshah. The chief justice expressed disappointment at the Sindh government’s inaction to recover its land, saying: “Forests are very important for the environment. If [they] do not want to work, they should leave this country. Such people are not capable of running the government. “I have never seen a government that is admitting that its land has been illegally occupied but is still not taking any action.” The petitioner alleged that PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had converted forest department’s 2.8 million acres into revenue land — a move he said was later declared null and void by the Sindh High Court. Furthermore, the petitioner claimed that the then Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah did not get a satellite survey of the land conducted despite the existence of court orders. The land, the petitioner alleged, was later transferred to Bahria Town, Omni Group and others in complete violation of the court orders. At this, the chief justice ordered Bahria Town CEO Malik Riaz to appear before the court in the next hearing. “Malik Riaz is illegally occupying 18,000 acres of forest land. He is very fond of talking on the rostrum, so now he should come.” Justice Nisar said that he would not grant Malik’s counsel his request for adjournment, summoning him to the Karachi registry on January 9, when the case will next be heard. The court also ordered the parties concerned to furnish their reports in the court by January 7.