July issue 2006
According to an assessment based on the value of rural or urban plots, the worth of a general in the army in real estate terms is anything from a hefty 150 to 400 million rupees. And that is a conservative estimate. Many senior generals own up to seven to eight properties in rural areas and in the cities. This development of a land-rich military is the result of a decades-old policy of awarding land, particularly agricultural land, to loyal military personnel. However, a number of officers own more than just one piece of land due to the fact that every gallantary award is accompanied with a piece of urban or rural property. Subsequently, service chiefs were given the option of getting a plot of land in the city of their choice. This provision is traced back to General Zia-ul-Haq’s era. As such, many senior officers obtained prime properties. The list includes: General (Retd.) Shamim Alam Khan, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (allotted a 1,066-square-yard plot in the costly F-7 sector on June 11, 1994), former chief of Army Staff, General (Retd.) Abdul Waheed Kakar (allotted a 1,200-square-yard plot, number 6 in sector G-6/4 on September 7, 1996), Air Chief Marshal (Retd.) Farooq Feroze Khan (allotted a 1,033-square-yard plot, number 13 in sector F-7/2 on January 29, 1995), former Naval Chief Admiral (Retd.) Saeed Muhammad Khan (allotted a plot measuring 1,066 square yards in sector F-7 on June 11, 1994), former Naval Chief Admiral (Retd.) Muhammad Saeed (allotted an 800-square-yard plot, number 19 in sector F-8/1 on August 30, 1987), and former Naval Chief, Admiral (Retd.) Yasturul Haq Malik, (allotted a 800-square-yard plot. number 551 in sector F-10/2 on November 4, 1991). The current market value of these plots varies from Rs. 70-100 million each.
However, there is no limit to the land acquired by some other officers. For instance, according to a list of land awards to officers, eight plots were allotted in the name of the Director General, ISI. The list placed before the Senate shows that five plots were allotted in the name of the DG, ISI on April 15, 1994 in sector F-11/2. The plots measuring 666 square yards, included plot numbers 193, 194, 261, 262 and 263. The DG, ISI was also allotted two more plots on November 16, 1994 in sector F-7/4 and F-7/2, each measuring 1,600 square yards. Another plot, measuring 1,244 square yards, was allotted in the name of the DG, ISI in sector F-7/1 on October 26, 1994.
Apart from the officially allocated plots, senior military officers get land in the defence housing schemes at concessional rates. However, developed, these plots add another Rs. 50-100 million each to the general’s total worth.
According to Lt. General (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, the DHAs pay market value for the land. However, the concept of market rate is debatable. The market rate is charged for agricultural land, which is phenomenally cheaper than urban property. The profit earned on property converted from rural to urban by the DHAs is much more than what would have been obtained had the real estate been sold as rural property. While the price of 600 square yards of agricultural property would be around Rs30,000-40,000, the same piece of urban land is worth approximately Rs50-100 million.
The writer is an independent social scientist and author of Military Inc. She tweets @iamthedrifter