Defence institutions not supposed to run businesses, cinemas, says CJP Gulzar Ahmed

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KARACHI: (Raja Furqan Ahmed):  Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed grilled the defence secretary over commercial use of military land, asking whether structures like cinemas and wedding halls were built for defence purposes. According to the details, 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. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that defence institutions have started profit-making businesses on strategic lands. Cinemas and wedding halls are being opened and run on these lands and commercial plazas are being built there. The court asked the Defence Secretary to appear before the court with a report about this use of land. “What are you people building in DHA Phase I?” Justice Gulzar asked the Directory of Military Land & Cantonments. This seems to be your modus operandi, he said. Build a huge wall and no one would know what’s going on inside. The court said that commercial plazas and wedding halls have been constructed inside the Faisal cantonment. There are wedding halls and a cinema operating in the COD (Central Ordinance Depot). Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that defence institutions are not supposed to run businesses and operate cinemas. The court said that the Navy is doing the same thing. They have established a housing society in Gizri. Tomorrow they’ll start a housing society inside Masroor Base, they said. During the hearing, the petitioner told the court that a wall has been built opposite Millennium Mall at the start of Gulistan-e-Jauhar and it is being used for marketing. Another wall has been built along Nueplex Cinema where commercial activities take place. Justice Ijazul Ahsan told the ML&C director to take notice of this and come up with a report. “Advocate General sahib, this is total collapse,” said the chief justice. Land allotted for defence is being commercialised, The status of land allotted for defence purposes cannot be changed, the court observed. “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.