Raiding the state

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Game: the most popular game in town is ‘Raiding the State’. The state has huge resources – land, natural gas, oil, water, mines and minerals. The real owners of all these resources are the 200 million Pakistanis but the game is all about getting hold of these resources at a fraction of their fair market value – for private gains.

Actors: the plot of ‘Raiding the State’ has at least three actors – businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats – acting in concert.

Goal: public money, private greed. The goal is to transfer state resources – land, natural gas, oil, water, mines and minerals – from the state into private pockets.

Capital Development Authority: the CDA was “established on June 14, 1960, first by an executive order, titled the ‘Pakistan Capital Regulation’, to be superseded by the CDA Ordinance issued on June 27, 1960.” The ordinance “constituted the authority, laid down its charter and defined its power, duties, functions and responsibilities.”

Case study: One Constitution Avenue is an upscale, high-rise twin-tower real-estate development which is under construction on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. The piece of land on which the twin towers are being built is probably the most prized – and the most precious – piece of real estate in the whole country.

August 2, 2004: the first bidding for the 13.5-acre plot on Constitution Avenue for the construction of a five-star hotel was cancelled.

September 28, 2004: the CDA re-started the auction process.

March 9, 2005: the CDA auctioned the 13.5-acre plot for the construction of a five-star hotel to the BNP Group for Rs4.88 billion. The CDA Board – for some odd reason – decided to hand over the possession of the plot after receiving a meagre Rs800 million.

May 2, 2005: the CDA signed a 33-year lease with Elite Fashion (a subsidiary of Bismillah Textile, which was later renamed BNP (Pvt) Limited).

May 5, 2006: BNP (Pvt) Limited applied to the CDA for the rescheduling of payments.

2007 to 2012: the CDA – for some odd reason – agreed to change the terms and conditions of the auction. The CDA – for some odd reason – agreed to extend the original lease period from 33 years to 99 years. The CDA – for some odd reason – reduced the amount of the initial bid money from 25 percent to 15 percent. Syed Tahir Shahbaz, the then CDA chairman, rescheduled the payment plan and allowed BNP to pay the remaining amount till 2026.

May 25, 2016: the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) “hinted that it would register a criminal case against at least two former heads of the civic agency and members of the CDA Board for giving undue favour to BNP.”

July 1, 2016: the CDA sealed the under-construction project for “various building and layout plan violations.” According to the CDA counsel, “BNP (Pvt) Limited created third party interest without adhering to the CDA by-laws.”

August 2, 2016: the CDA cancelled the lease.

Conclusion: Hundreds of billions worth of state resources are being raided for private benefits. Between 2005 and 2012, BNP somehow managed to get all it wanted from the CDA Board. BNP seems to have its legal file all in order. In this case study there is a politician by the name of Ch Nisar Ali Khan who is trying to put an end to the ‘Raiding of the State’.