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Lahore
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
EditorialIllegal plot allotments

Illegal plot allotments

The visible divide between those who are privileged and those who are less-affluent only seems to
be widening in Pakistan, especially considering the land allotment deals served to the country's
bureaucracy on silver plates. According to a latest report, 588 senior officers in grades BS-20 to BS-
22 have acquired luxury double-storey houses at subsidised rates. These houses are in Islamabad's
locality of F-14 and F-15 with some bureaucrat being 'fortunate' enough have acquired two plots
each. However, it must be noted that just last month, on Aug 28, the Islamabad High Court had ruled
that allotting more than one plot to top bureaucrats and judges of the superior judiciary was illegal
and against Article 25 of the Constitution that provides equal opportunity to all. The court had then
referred the matter to the federal government. The cabinet meeting held last week raised the
concern in front of Prime Minister Imran Khan who formed a committee to formulate a
comprehensive policy in this regard, which would be in observance of the Article 25.
Formulation of a policy in accordance to the IHC judge's recommendation would overturn the policy
that was enacted during Gen Pervez Musharraf's regime. This is a welcome move but the federal
government must realise that it is only the first step towards ensuring that lands forcibly snatched
from the poor are not handed over to influential people at cheaper rates. It must be remembered
that in 2016 then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had cancelled allotment of 'choice' apartments to
influential bureaucrats in the same locality. However, the Federal Government Employees Housing
Authority (FGEHA) interestingly, during the balloting for the two new sectors, allotted two plots each
to 19 bureaucrats of grade BS-22. The government then must also devise a strategy to keep a check
and balance on the way balloting is held at the authority.
There is no denying the fact that political favours are often given in the form of land. Chief Minister
of Punjab Usman Buzdar earlier this year had revealed that the former government had parceled
over 1,352 plots to his favourites. It is then on the incumbent government to ensure that influential
members of the society are not doled out plots during their tenure. Thus, an investigation must be
held to identify how some senior officers were allotted two plots or 'grey structures,' both in
violation of the government policies. All citizens of the country must be treated equally.

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