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PAC meeting – ‘DHA City’ status, Defence sec feigns ignorance

ISLAMABAD – Secretary Defence Lt General (retd) Syed Athar Ali Khan on Thursday failed to tell the status of DHA City Lahore to the Public Accounts Committee.

During PAC meeting, when Riaz Fitana asked the secretary defence to clear the position of DHA City Lahore, secretary defence said, “Either DHA City Lahore is the part of Defence Housing Authority or it is a private entity and if it has been launched by a private company then why is the name ‘DHA’ being used?”

Fatiana said that the management of the DHA City Lahore had collected billions of rupees against one thousand residential plots, none of which had been allocated. “Now another housing society with the name ‘DHA Raya’ has also been launched in Lahore,” he added.

Taking strict notice of unsatisfactory performance of Athar Ali Khan, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday made a joint committee of the officials of the Ministry of Defence and Auditor General of Pakistan to settle audit objections on the commercial use of cantonment lands.

Chaired by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Public Account Committee expressed strong reservations over leasing out of 166 acres land of cantonment board and non fixation of responsibility on the officers found involved in irregularities.

The audit officials raised objection that Rs 7.8 million earned from leasing agricultural land at Mushaf Air Base were not deposited in government treasury. Member of committee Zahid Hamid said the matter of leasing out agriculture land was not transparent. Audit official informed the committee that Pakistan Army had been using government land falling in A-1 category, worth Rs 120.767 billion for commercial purposes, adding that relinquishment of the land of Fortress Stadium will be based on the rate of Rs.150, 000 per square yard, while the recovery to be effected as in the case of private treaty arrangement would be amounting to Rs 1.386 billion.

Member of committee Saeed Ahmad Zafar told PAC directives were not complied with and instead autocratic attitude was adopted.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that no one was above law. “The Indian Chief of Army Staff’s summoning before India’s public accounts committee is triumph of democracy,” he added.

Committee also expressed dismay over the unauthorized occupation of A-1 land measuring 107.29 acres without prior approval of the government as well as non-recovery of rent amounting Rs 5.922 million from National Logistic Cell (NLC) as per revealed by the record of Military Estate Office (MEO) Gujranwala.

Athar further assured the committee that the data of all the A-1 land in possession of three forces would be collected by his ministry for evolving a fair asset management mechanism to discourage the practice of commercialization of land in future.

DG ML and C categorically informed the meeting that the responsibility of management of A-1 land come under the preview of armed forces and Cantonment Board can not be made responsible for any misuse of land.

Pakistan Today

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