ISLAMABAD: Just adjacent to the elite Guns Club, which is presently under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, prime state land worth billions of rupees was silently leased out on nominal rent to the Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) by General Musharraf during his last days in power for the entertainment of the country’s mighty and powerful.
A total of 150 acres (1,200 kanals) of land was leased out to the PGF on annual ground rent of just Rs2.41 per square yard i.e. Rs1.7 million per year. This land is located adjacent to the already operational golf course of the Islamabad Club, situated in the heart of the federal capital.
The Supreme Court has issued notices to the federal government and the Pakistan Sports Board for allotting 72 acres of land worth trillions of rupees to Guns Club at no rent. The apex court had taken suo moto notice on this issue on an August 1, 2011 news story of daily Jang and ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to submit report on this.
The CDA in its report submitted on August 10 admitted that no rent was being taken for this lucrative land. The CDA disclosed that it had allotted some land to PSB which gave 44 acres of it to a private club owned by an influential personality and later the CDA was ordered to allot another 28 acres of land to this elite Guns Club at no rent.
However, contrary to the Guns Club, this club of golfers is really influential with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani acting as its president. Gen Kayani became president of PGF in 2004 for a term of five years and then in 2009 again became the president for a similar term to end in 2014, one year after his expected retirement in November 2013 from the office of COAS. Before Kayani, Lt Gen Muhammad Tariq served as president of PGF from 1999 to 2004.
Sources in the Capital Development Authority claim that the said land, which makes part of the National Park Area of the federal capital territory, was leased out to the powerful PGF following pressure from official quarters. These sources said there was hardly any reason to lease out this prime land for developing a new golf course when there existed another golf club adjacent to the allotted land.
Some PGF officials has been arguing that the Islamabad Golf Club was only open for its members whereas the new one would be open for all. The golfers do not see anything bad in the existence of two golf clubs side by side, that too in Islamabad, where the price of land is exorbitantly high and beyond the reach of ordinary Pakistanis.
Golf is a kind of sport that is associated with elite throughout the world. But PGF officials are of the view that any ordinary person would have the opportunity to play in the Pakistan Golf Federation Club by depositing a meagre fee.
It is also argued that the Islamabad Golf Club had reached saturation point and the gates of the club open at about 6:00 in the morning. However, a source in the Islamabad Golf Club said this leading golf course of the federal capital was being used far below its capacity.
It is said that on an average 100 players played per day at weekends whereas during weekdays, the per day average in Islamabad club remains at around 30-35. The source also insisted that even the Islamabad Golf Club was being run on grants and subsidies, as it did not generate enough revenue to maintain its operation.
In the master plan of Islamabad has provision of only one golf club i.e. the existing Islamabad Golf Club, which is part of the Islamabad Club. Besides the Islamabad Golf Club, the federal capital already has a 9-hole golf course at E-9, which is owned by the Pakistan Air Force officers.
Islamabad has already become notorious for being freely or cheaply available to the elite of the country. A few chosen influential classes of the society are doled out residential plots in Islamabad and a special category of people is even entitled to get two residential plots and a house as well.