Sunday, February 17, 2013

State Aristocracy’s Pakistan – 17: Transparency raises questions about Rs.5 billion Bilawal House in Lahore

ISLAMABAD: The newly constructed 200-kanal palace in Bahria Town Lahore named Bilawal House, said to be worth Rs5 billion and allegedly gifted to the President of Pakistan, has come under severe criticism from Transparency International.

TIP, in a letter to the Supreme Court, NAB and many other organisations, has asked how the president can receive the ‘gift’, as no government servant can accept any gift while in service. The spokesman of Bahria Town, Col (retd) Khalil when contacted said it was not in his knowledge and only Malik Riaz 
can reveal the actual situation. Malik Riaz Hussain could not be contacted for comments. 

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, the chairman National Accountability Bureau, the chairman Public Accounts Committee and the federal minister of finance have also been sent letters by the Transparency International regarding 200-kanal palace allegedly gifted to the president just ahead of the general election. 

Transparency International Pakistan has referred to the following international and national press reports: 

1. That after building a Bilawal House in Karachi, now the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari is going to ceremoniously open a Bilawal House in Lahore’s Bahria Town as well. And according to the sources the house is worth Rs5 billion. 

2. That it is reported that this house is probably a gift for PPP president from Malik Riaz, who is the owner of Bahria Town. 

3. That with one in Karachi, President Asif Ali Zardari will inaugurate another Bilawal House in Bahria Town Lahore on Saturday. 

4. That sources told that the house located in popular Bahria Town Lahore having worth of Rs5 billion, is a bullet-proof bungalow built on over 200 kanals of land. 

5. That the house carries a runway for landing of private jets. 

6. That sources quoted as saying that the house will be gift to PPP president from Malik Riaz, the owner of Bahria Town.” 

“The press reports have not been denied by anyone, and it is therefore assumed that the reports of Rs5 billion house built by Malik Riaz and gifted to President Asif Ali Zardari are correct. Transparency International Pakistan would like to inform the president that according to the Rules and Instructions relating to the Conduct of Government Servants, Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964 Section 5 (1) quoted below, gifts shall not be accepted. 5. Gifts: (1) Save as otherwise provided in this rule, no government servant shall, except with the previous sanction of the government, accept, or permit any member of his family to accept, from any person any gift the receipt of which will place him under any form of official obligation to the donor. If, however, due to very exceptional reasons, a gift cannot be refused, the same may, under intimation to the Cabinet Division, be kept for official use in the Department or Organisation in which he is working.” 

Transparency International Pakistan has requested the secretary general to the president to process the gift of Rs5 Billion House at Bahria Town Lahore to be transferred to the government of Pakistan if the news reports are correct.

[The News, February 14, 2013]

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