Are wedding halls, cinemas for defence: CJP No more commercial activities on military land, SC told

Staff Reporter

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Friday grilled the defence secretary over commercial use of military land, asking whether structures like cinemas and wedding halls were built for defence purposes.

A three-judge bench headed by the chief justice and comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing the issue of military lands being used for commercial purposes at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry.

The CJP questioned Defence Secretary Lt Gen (Retd) Mian Mohammad Hilal Hussain about the activities being conducted on military lands.

“This land was given to you for strategic and defence [purposes and yet] you have started commercial activities on it,” he said.

“Were wedding halls, cinemas and housing societies built for defence purposes?” CJP Ahmed asked. He remarked that all Askari housing projects had been built on cantonment lands.

“We have decided that this will not happen again,” the defence secretary said, adding that the construction of housing societies and commercial use of military land would be checked and stopped.

At this, Justice Amin asked Hussain how that would be made possible and where the process would start.

The judge asked him to provide a written explanation. The chief justice commented that colonels and majors were acting like kings. “What the colonels and majors desire, happens,” he said.

“Go and tell all the chiefs [of the armed forces] that the land meant for defence purposes will not be used for commercial objectives.

Go to all the military cantonments and tell them the land will be used only for strategic purposes,” CJP Ahmed ordered the defence secretary.

He also said that commercial activities were underway at Masroor Base and Faisal Base and tall buildings had been erected when orders were given to remove signboards.

The bench asked Hussain whether he had a written report regarding the matter, at which the secretary requested more time to submit the same.

The court adjourned the hearing until November 30, saying it would take place in Islamabad and also ordered that a written report be submitted.

While conducting hearings on other cases, the chief justice asked Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon till when the demolition of Karachi’s Nasla Tower would be completed.

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