NAB quizzes imprisoned Nawaz for Pakpattan land allotment

11:46 PM | 30 Jul, 2019
NAB quizzes imprisoned Nawaz for Pakpattan land allotment

LAHORE - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was quizzed by a team of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) regarding allotment of land in Pakpattan city of Punjab.

The incarcerated leader was handed over a questionnaire besides being quizzed about the land allotment to which he replied that he did not recall anything as the documents were 34-years-old.

The probe team inquired if Sharif - imprisoned in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail - had given an advertisement in the newspaper regarding the allotment.

“On what grounds was the land allotted and which officers issued the directives for the allotment,” inquired the NAB team.

To this, the former prime minister reiterated that he did not remember as the case was decades old.

Sharif, however, affirmed that he had fulfilled all the legal requirements but was not able to recall the details.

"I had worked under the parameters of the law and the Constitution and never misused my authority. I have always served the country," said Nawaz.

The investigations pertain to allotment of land attached with Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar's shrine in Pakpattan by then chief minister Nawaz Sharif.

After Partition, Dewan Ghulam Qutab and his family used to be the ‘owners’ of the shrine’s land as per the revenue record from 1947 to 1958.

The family sold pieces of the land to different people until Jan 1, 1970, when the Punjab government notified the Auqaf Department as the rightful owner of the land and Dewans as the custodian of the shrine.

Dewans challenged the directives before the Lahore High Court but the case was decided against them.

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In 1986, the government withdrew its 1970 notification and Dewans also withdrew their appeal before the Lahore High Court.

After this, the Dewans resumed their land selling business and the revenue department issued ownership rights to all the buyers.

In the meantime, a 1981 case regarding land filed in a civil court reached the Supreme Court by 2015.

The former chief justice took suo moto of the land deals of the shrine and summoned officials of the revenue and Auqaf departments and the Dewans.

After some hearings, the Supreme Court declared notification of Aug 28, 1986, illegal and nullified all land deals done since then, affecting 100,000 residents of different localities.

The Dewans filed a review petition last year for defence of their right to sell the land with the Supreme Court which remained pending since then.

Former chief justice Saqib Nisar, during his visit to the Baba Farid shrine in 2018, had promised justice in the case when dozens of the affected people raised slogans to get his attention towards their plight, Express Tribune reported.

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A Joint Investigation Team was also formed to probe the matter headed by Hussain Asghar which had recommended criminal proceedings against then Punjab chief minister and others and held Nawaz responsible for illegal allotment.

The report said he [Sharif] had allotted the lands of Hujra Shah Muqim and Darbar Hafiz Jamal too during the same tenure adding that Sajjadah Nasheen Qutubuddin had sent an application to the chief minister in which he had requested for the withdrawal of 1969 notification.

Former premier had requested the Supreme Court to reject the report, alleging that Mr Asghar implicated him in his zeal by completely ignoring the fact that the particulars of the notification as mentioned in the summary alleged to have been originated from the CM office did not match with the particulars of the notification that was actually withdrawn by the Auqaf department.

Nawaz is serving 7-years jail term in Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia case filed by the National Accountability Bureau.