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November 20, 2019

Mustafa Kamal may be indicted in land allotment case on Dec 4

Karachi

November 20, 2019

An accountability court on Tuesday rejected the applications of Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal and a builder named Muhammad Dawood against the maintainability of the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference against the allegedly illegal allotment of a prime land in the upmarket Clifton neighbourhood on which a skyscraper was constructed.

The anti-graft watchdog had booked Kamal and 10 others over the allegedly illegal sale and purchase of an amenity plot spread over more than 6,000 square yards.

The other suspects are former and current government officers Fazlur Rehman, Iftikhar Qaimkhani, Mumtaz Haider, Syed Nishat Ali and Nazir Zardari, and real estate developers Dawood, Zain Malik, Muhammad Yaqoob, Muhammad Irfan and Muhammad Rafiq.

Accountability Court-IV judge Farid Anwar Qazi announced his order, which was reserved earlier, and observed that the pleas by the defendants were devoid of merits and were therefore dismissed. The court adjourned the hearing until December 4 to frame the charges against the suspects and begin the trial.

In their pleas, the defendants claimed that NAB had failed to fulfil the mandatory legal requirements and filed the reference without completing the due legal process.

The judge also rejected Malik’s application seeking exemption from appearing in court on the pretext that he was under treatment at a hospital in London and could not travel back to the country.

The court issued non-bailable warrants against Malik and Dawood, directing the investigating officer to arrest them and present them before the judge in the next hearing.

According to NAB, the suspects had sold an amenity plot owned by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation in Clifton to a private builder to construct a high-rise.

The plot of 6,632 square yards situated between Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine and Bagh Ibne Qasim was supposed to be given to sea-shell hawkers to set up their stalls, but it was illegally sold to builders at below the market price, claims the watchdog.

NAB maintained that Kamal had approved the commercial status of the plot, following which it was sold to DJ Builders, which later sold it to Bahria Town. The watchdog said the plot’s price was shown to be Rs260 million, while it valued more than Rs2.5 billion, adding that the plot had initially been divided into 198 stalls to be handed over to hawkers, but the plan did not materialise.

NAB said that in 2007 the plot was amalgamated into one and sold to DJ Builders, while in 2014 it was sold to Bahria Town, which started work on it to build a skyscraper. The watchdog said the entire process was illegal, as neither can the status of the plot be changed nor a building higher than a storey be built on it. It added that the suspects using their influence caused loss of over Rs2 billion to the national exchequer.

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