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Pakistani Court Halts Punjab Govt's Handover of 45,000 Acres for Corporate Farming to Army

As a blow to the Pakistan Army, the Lahore High Court on Friday halted the transfer of more than 45,000 acres of state land in Punjab province to the military on a 30-year lease.

Shivam Dwivedi
Pakistani Court Halts Punjab Govt's Handover of 45,000 Acres for Corporate Farming to Army
Pakistani Court Halts Punjab Govt's Handover of 45,000 Acres for Corporate Farming to Army

Punjab's caretaker administration this month granted the Pakistan Army a lease on 45,266 acres of state property in three districts of Punjab province- Khushab, Bhakar, and Sahiwal- for 'corporate Agro farming' at the latter's 'request.'

The government used Section 10 of the Colonization of Government Lands (Punjab) Act 1912 to grant the Army a 30-year lease on the land.

The decision was challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) by the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan, which claimed that the government's announcement was "illegal because the caretaker administration is not empowered with any power to authorize it."

Judge Abid Hussain Chattah of the LHC stopped the government's notification and requested a response from the Ministry of Defence and the Punjab government by May 9. According to the law, the caretaker administration can only carry out the province's day-to-day operations.

According to the petitioner's counsel, exercising powers under Section 10 of the Colonization Act does not fit under any of the categories of lawful activities by Mohsin Naqvi's interim government. He said that giving over state territory to the Army violated the "Doctrine of Public Trust."

"There is no provision in the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 that authorizes or empowers the army to undertake any activity beyond its composition for the purposes of welfare unless the federal government expressly grants permission to do so," he argued, contending that the Army has no jurisdiction to engage in "business ventures" of any kind outside its composition, either directly or indirectly.

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