Former Finance Minister Dr Hafiz Pasha has stressed the need for revising the policy of allotting state land at a nominal rate to top civilian and military leadership.
Talking to Business Recorder here, he said that state-owned land should not be given out to any individual whether civilian or military upon his retirement, adding that the distribution of virtually free land causes financial losses to the national kitty.
He said current allotment of land needs to be revised. He suggested that retired top military brass or bureaucracy should be given pension, adding, “elite enjoy all the benefits where lower ranks and grades get nothing”.
“Singling out military leaders is not appropriate as senior bureaucrats also get expensive plots in posh areas of the country,” he added. However, it is relevant to note that civilian bureaucrats are allotted residential plots and not huge chunks of lands like military generals.
Former Finance Minister Punjab Tanveer Ashraf Kaira toldBusiness Recorder that the practice of gifting agriculture land to serving and retired army officers must be reviewed in present scenario. He said that serving army generals are already entitled to residential and commercials plots.
“The allotment of additional state land at a nominal price upon retirement is not an appropriate economic decision,” he said.
A senior military official who wished not to be named questioned how long the country could keep allocating lands to civil and military officials, which they sell out later, adding the policymakers should seriously look into the matter and devise alternatives to compensate individuals who perform well when in office. He said it is a colonial concept and since the army is not colonial, the practice should stop.
Sources said that the allotment of land and distribution of other facilities to senior army officers is done directly by the army General Headquarters through the adjutant general, an officer of the rank of lieutenant general.
According to Article 172 of the Constitution, any land in a province, which has no rightful owner, belongs to the provincial government. The federal government can acquire land from a province for some specific purpose but when that purpose is served the land shall revert to the provincial government.
Further, Article 173 (5) stipulates that the transfer of land from a provincial government to the federal government ‘shall be regulated by law’. All Border Area Committees across Pakistan have records of all the land along the frontier and these lands are given only to army officials.
According to a former army officer such schemes are announced after certain periods of time and army officers can get farmhouse land at nominal rates. If the market value of a property is Rs 10 million, under the scheme one can get it for less than Rs one million. Such schemes are introduced by the army authorities with the consent of the federal government, he said.
Defence Analyst Hasan Askari said that the allotment of agricultural land to serving and retired military generals is an old and well established practice going back to the period of British rule in undivided India. No detailed data is available on such allotments since the establishment of Pakistan and the civilian governments do not want to alienate the military by making detailed data available to the public.