ISLAMABAD: In an unexpected move on Monday, a Senate panel constituted a sub-committee to probe into the matter of alleged illegal occupation of lands in Quetta by military and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) personnel under the garb of welfare and development projects and submit a report within 60 days.

“Nobody has the right to occupy anybody’s land without the consent of its owner and if there is any such need to do so then the actual heir of the land should be in the know with full payment of the land’s price,” There is was a full consensus amongst the senators during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Studies with Senator Mushahid Hussain in the chair.

The sub-committee, consisting of Senator Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum as its chairman and senators Hidayatullah and Farhatullah Babar as its members — will have meetings with officials of PAF, Ministry of Defense, provincial government and the owners/heirs of the lands in Quetta to prepare a report.

The panel talked about the adjournment motion submitted by three senators that an ‘alarming rise in military land in Quetta was causing disharmony among the people’.

Senators, also consisting of the two who had moved the adjournment motion – senators Muhammad Usman Kakar and Sardar Muhammad Khan, expressed complete disapproval of the occupation of land without payment to the local tribes.

“Welfare projects are always carried out, but not by invading someone’s land without their approval,” Senator Kakar said.

Senator Khan asked, “When the possessions of those lands were accepted by English rulers, then how come the current security forces invading it without giving the locals their due rights?”

He inquired the representatives of the PAF and the military, “How come lands worth billions of rupees had been included by them in their territory without the approval or payment to local tribes?”

He said that a recent standoff was dodged when security forces at PAF Base Samungli came to ‘grab’ the land near their base and locals declined to give it.

 “Give people money if you want to own their land,” said Khan.

Senator Abdul Qayyum also asked as to why the welfare project was specifically being built on the land where locals were not ready to hand it over? “Build it somewhere else if they are unhappy with it,” he stated.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi said, “If the project is not for the security forces and their families, then it could be established anywhere, but if the people do not want it then it cannot be enforced.”

In the mean time, two victims from Quetta also shared their unfortunate expereince as to how their lands were taken away from them and construction was under way without paying a single penny to them.

One of the victims Azam Zada said, “Even an FIR had been registered against those who ‘resisted’ in the past.”

Earlier, briefing the Senate committee, Air Commodore Abdul Moeed said that PAF was using land in Samungli as airbase, in Nohisar as Regi Airfield and in Maslaikh as a firing range. He said that these three lands were taken into possesion in 1942, 1978 and 2008, respectively and all due procedure was followed and no land was being grabbed anywhere else.

 “PAF intends to set up a city named Yunusabad in Quetta named after a PAF captain Yunus on the pattern of city Rashidabad set up by the PAF in Sindh,” he added.

He said that the area and the facilities therein would be foremost aimed for the underprivileged and no benefit would be given to those related to the PAF.

Senator Azam Musakhel referred to the three resolutions of the Balochistan Assembly which had in 1999, 2002 and 2014, respectively expressed strong disapproval for this forced occupation.