Pakistan’s chief of army staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.
LAHORE: In a rare rebuke of Pakistan’s powerful army, the Lahore high court has called it the country’s “biggest land grabber” and said its uniform is for the service to the nation and “not to rule as a king”.
Lahore high court (LHC) Chief Justice Mohammad Qasim Khan, during the hearing of a land grabbing case on Wednesday, said that he does not want to say anything wrong about the army, but the way it occupies the properties of people is nothing but land grabbing.
“The army seems to have become the biggest land grabber in the country,” he said.
“The uniform of the army is for service and not to rule as a king,” he said while hearing petitions of three citizens seeking an order against the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), which is under the army, to not disturb their lawful possession of the land they had obtained on lease from the Evacuee Trust Property Board.
Regretting that the army had also grabbed a piece of land owned by the high court, Justice Khan said that he would instruct the LHC registrar to write a letter to the Chief of the Army Staff (Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa) on the issue.
The bar also remained indifferent to the issue, he lamented.
The chief justice said the Corps Commander of Lahore could be summoned to verify the land grabbing facts.
The army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the several matters of security and foreign policy.
He observed that the army had an attractive post-retirement welfare plan for its officers, which other institutions like police and judiciary lacked.
“Is it only the army that makes sacrifices? Do other institutions like the police, lawyers and judges not make sacrifices?” the chief justice asked.
Justice Khan said that no one has ever dared to refuse filing a reply in his court during his 11-year stay in the LHC.
To a question, the counsel for the housing authority said that retired army officers work in the DHA. However, its administrator was a serving officer.
The chief justice directed the DHA administrator and Lahore police chief Ghulam Mahmood Dogar to appear before the court.
Justice Khan asked Dogar to better leave the job if he could not take any action against the illegal occupations by the DHA. As he ordered the police officer to lodge an FIR if he received any application against the DHA.