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Issues relating to Defence Housing Authorities discussed

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Committee asks for copy of agreement between DHA Lahore and the company tasked to develop plots

Islamabad January 19, 2016: The senate defence committee today asked the the DHA Lahore to provide it a copy of the agreement between it and the private company tasked to acquire and develop plots for the shuhada and general public – the company now at the centre of Rs 17 billion corruption scandal in the housing authority. The decision was taken after PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar complained that he had still not been provided a copy of the agreement despite having asked for it last week.

Discussing the working of DHAs Senator Farhatullah Babar questioned the manner in which these housing authorities were given legal cover.

The Order setting up the DHA Karachi was never brought before the Parliament but included in schedule 7 of the Constitution at the time of lifting of martial law so that even the Parliament could not change it except as in the manner as required for amending the Constitution, he said.

DHA Lahore was previously a private housing society that was forcibly taken overduring Musharraf days and made DHA and the Presidential order given legal cover at the time of 17th Amendments, he said.

He said that manipulating legal covers in such a manner only bred suspicion and raised questions.

He also questioned the claim that the DHAs used no resources of the government and were managed through private sources. He questioned the rationale of keeping the accounts of DHA beyond the purview of audit by AGPR.

On the one hand the defence ministry brings up DHA legislation to the Parliament for endorsement and on the other the Parliamentary body namely the Public Accounts Committee has no powers to audit its accounts through the Auditor General. Why should the DHA management be averse to audit by the AGPR, he asked.

He said that the general administration the Authority vest in the governing body, which consist of secretary ministry of defence (chairman), Adjutant General Pakistan Army or serving lieutenant general of Pakistan Army to be nominated by the Chief of Army Staff will be vice chairman while serving or retired major general to be nominated by COAS.

The executive board of DHA will be comprised of Adjutant General Pakistan Army or serving Lt General to be nominated by Chief of Army Staff as president, serving or retired major general to be nominated by COAS will be vice-chairman. With senior officers of GHQ and Defence Ministry managing the affairs how can its funds be kept out of the

purview of AGPR, he asked.

Pointing out the manner in which the DHAs have made legislation and also acquired lands he said DHA Karachi acquired over 240 acres of Sindh government land despite the provincial governments serious objections that had led to a court case also. The provincial government was however made to agree to sell the land to DHA Karachi at throw away price only after the military takeover in 1999.

It was in the interest of the defense services that these issues were addressed.

Farhatullah Babar expressed reservations over the absence of the Administrators of the DHAs Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. It was decided that these administrators will be asked to appear before the Committee at the next meeting.

He said that over two years ago the senate defence committee took up the issue of acquisition of KPT and PQA land by DHA Karachi at a pittance but it has still not given answers to the questions asked at the time. The issue he said had come up during the hearing before Supreme Court on law and order in Karachi and the lease agreement came to light according to which the land was sold to DHA at a pittance of @ Rs. 2.5 per square meter.

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