‘Victims’ of Malik Riaz look up to army chief -by Imran Ali Teepu

ISLAMABAD, June 10: Army officials and retired junior commissioned officers, who claim to have suffered at the hands of Malik Riaz, are hoping that Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will heed their appeals for the return of their hard earned savings.

They had invested this money into the DHA Valley. A retired army officer, Col (retired) Mohammad Akhtar, told Dawn that Gen Kayani should address the concerns of retired JCOs and the families of martyrs since “the loss of their money and land in these tough economic times is not easy.”

“I have served in the artillery corps and am now living in a middle-class neighbourhood of the city. I spent my retirement package on the DHA Valley scheme but today I have no plot and no money,” said Col (retired) Akhtar.

“I have been part of the army’s regular service in the Sialkot sector after the 1971 war. My brother, Flt Lt Malik Murtaza, lost his life in the same war,” he added.

Col (retired) Tariq Kamal, an officer who has served in DHA as director Urban Planning, recently told Dawn: “Those who got cheated in DHA Valley scam include 110,000 civilians, 41,000 serving and retired military officers, jawans and families of martyrs.”

Col Kamal, a former DHA official who is now trying to get justice for all those who invested in a plot in the Valley Scheme, told Dawn that the DHA had announced the housing scheme in 2009.

“The DHA Valley comprised small-sized plots to help those who could not afford a house in the regular DHA societies where the plot sizes tended to be bigger.

“Most DHA plots are one kanal or more,” he added, “though in a few cities we have small plots that are about 300 square yards.”

Col Akhtar remembers that when the announcement was made in newspapers, the scheme proved so popular that the application forms were in short supply.

“Though they were free, I had to buy the forms from a property dealer for Rs2,000 each in 2009,” he said.

However, after the money poured in, DHA made a deal with Malik Riaz and transferred around Rs62 billion to the latter “against the advice of DHAI legal advisers Ahmer Bilal Soofi & Co.”

The amount was earned from the sale of all the planned plots in the valley.

Since then the housing scheme never saw the light of day.

Providing details about the scheme, Col Akhtar said plots measuring 150 square yards and 240 square yards were offered to retired officers such as JCOs and families of martyred soldiers since these smaller parcels of land were more affordable.

“The cost was Rs100,000 per 30 square yard,” he added.

Located in Zone-V of the capital city, the DHA Valley project was to be some distance from DHA-II.

However, three years after it was announced, the area where the proposed society was to be located is barren land. No development has taken place there.

According to Col Kamal, “For DHA Valley around 80,000 kanal of land is required in total and this acquisition was never completed.”

And those who thought that the scheme would provide them their retirement home have lost their money.

Dejected and hurt, Col Akhtar asked rhetorically who would return his Rs800,000 to him. This is the amount he had invested in the project in 2009.

“I have approached local property dealers but they say you will only get Rs200,000 since the plots are non-existent and only files are available,” he told Dawn.

Asked whether he had approached senior military officials or Gen Kayani himself, he said: “What I do know is that a few senior officers did inform him about the fraud that had affected thousands of retired armymen. I was given the hope that there might be some movement to help us.”

“I request Gen Kayani to investigate the matter; fix responsibility and return our hard earned savings. I am a retired colonel and the lost amount is causing me difficulties. Imagine what a retired Subedar or the family of a Sepoy would be going through,” he added.

When approached, the public relations officer of Bahria Town, Ms Nida said: “I have already told you that I have no clue about the issue. I can only give you a version by Monday since no official is in contact with me at the moment.”

When the army’s media department, the ISPR, was contacted by Dawn, an official said: “We will get back to you after getting an input from the officials concerned.”

However, till filing of this story no official statement came from the army.

Source: DAWN