Thursday January 27, 2022

Defence Secretary faces Supreme Court's rage over commercial use of cantonment land

CJP Gulzar Ahmed was assured by Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Mian Hilal Hussain that commercial usage of cantonment land will no longer be permitted

By Web Desk
November 26, 2021
— screengrab via Hum News Live
— screengrab via Hum News Live

The Secretary of Defence, retired Lt Gen Mian Hilal Hussain, assured an enraged Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed before a Supreme Court bench that the use of cantonment land for commercial purposes will not be allowed in the future.

A case involving the conversion of cantonment land for private and commercial use has been heard by the three-member Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Gulzar on Friday.

The chief justice had ordered the defence secretary to appear in the court a day earlier to address questions about the case.

When asked to submit the written report on military lands that had been transformed for private or commercial use, the defence secretary requested time from the court.

"You were given land, but what are you doing with it?"

The defense secretary was questioned by Justice Gulzar.

"This land was given to you for defence and strategic purposes. You, on the other hand, are using it for commercial purposes," he said.

The chief justice said, "You have constructed wedding halls, cinemas, and housing societies on it."

In response, the official assured, "we have resolved not to allow this to happen in the future."

Justice Qazi Amin chastised the secretary at this point.

"What exactly do you mean by that?

Every [commercial] activity [now taking place] on cantonment territory will have to come to a halt as well," he added.

"How can you know anything about what's going on here [in Karachi] if you're sitting in Islamabad?" the top justice asked.

"Go to all the cantonment areas and inform them that the land will only be used for strategic and defence purposes from now on," he said.

"The Masroor and Kaemari bases have been transformed into commercial [property]," the chief justice remarked.

"When we told the authorities to take down the signboards, they built tall structures behind them," he noted.

The chief justice asked for a written statement after hearing the defence secretary and deferred the matter to Tuesday, November 30.

The case will next be heard in Islamabad.