ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s defence committee on Monday constituted a sub-committee to investigate allegations that the armed forces have forcibly occupied lands in Quetta for their projects.
Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed after listening to presentations by officials of the defence ministry and representatives of affected locals set up the three-member sub-committee, which would be led by Senator Abdul Qayyum, a retired general. Other members include PPP secretary general Senator Farhatullah Babar and Senator Hidayatullah.
The matter had been referred to the defence committee after Senators Usman Kakar, Azam Khan Musakhel and Gul Bashra moved an adjournment motion in the upper house of parliament on alleged “alarming rise in the occupation of land by military and Air Force in Quetta causing disharmony among the people”.
The defence ministry officials contended that the land was required for welfare projects and had been leased to the armed forces by the provincial government.
Senator Sayed asked the defence ministry to ensure that all work on the project be stopped till the sub-committee came up with its conclusions and recommendations.
The defence ministry officials said work had already been suspended since the row started and the provincial government had been asked to sort out the matter with the locals.
Senator Kakar said the primary objection was over the forcible occupation of lands. Otherwise, he said, there were no reservations about the armed forces’ social work or proper acquisition of the land after compensating the land owners.
Members of the committee taking part in the discussion said that there was no national security compulsion to get the lands concerned. They were of the view that the acquisition should be done with the consent of the locals.
The committee, however, did not take up the agenda item related to the Pakistan Army’s renewed plans to shift GHQ to Islamabad.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, who was travelling, had requested the committee chair to defer the discussion on the issue.
The committee also deferred briefing on LoC ceasefire violations and security situation of the Pak-Iran and Pak-Afghan borders as the defence secretary was busy with a meeting of the Central Selection Board for promotion of officers.
A resolution jointly adopted by the committee hailed the Pakistan cricket team’s victory in the Champions Trophy. The resolution appreciated the people of India-held Kashmir for celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India.