LAHORE: Defence analysts are of the view that there is nothing unusual about the 90 acres of land allotted to Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif, saying ‘some elements’ have leaked the information with the intention defaming him.
Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, an analyst, while talking to The Express Tribune, said: “Apparently, this information has been leaked to tarnish his image which he had gained throughout his service and during his tenure as chief of the army staff.”
He said the British had adopted the policy of granting agricultural land to military personnel in Punjab in order to encourage recruitment to the army. “This [step] helped improve the socioeconomic status of army personnel in an agricultural society.”
He said in the post-independence period, land in Thal desert was assigned to the military for allotting to former military personnel.
“The provincial assembly was informed in January 1988 that the Punjab government had allotted about 450,000 acres of land to 5,538 military personnel between 1977 and 1985,” he said.
However, a retired military man, on the condition of anonymity, said: “He [Sharif] is awarded [land] out of the way,” adding, “At the maximum a retired military officer is allotted 50 acres (400 kanal) of land, while Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif is given 90 acres which is an exception.”
“Moreover, this is a prime piece of land located near Lahore. Otherwise, officers of lower ranks are given land in far-off areas which are not in the reach of a common man,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune on telephone. He spoke on record for about 10 minutes till the end of the conversation, but later ringed back to request not to be named.
“To the best of my knowledge, I cannot find a single example of awarding this much land to any general — at least in the air force or the navy,” he went on to say.
He said: “It makes no sense that Raheel Sharif has been allotted 50 acres of land under his prerogative as a four-star general, and another 40 acres as the chief of army staff,” adding, “Every army chief is a four-star general.”
He said officers of lower ranks (subedar and naib-subedar) are given 25 acres (200 kanal) of land — at most — and added that it was also not necessary that they were allotted land soon after their retirement.
“They are allotted land on the basis of its availability,” adding, “Many retired officers have to wait for years to get the land.”
“If a retired officer dies without getting land, he loses his right over the land and his children also cannot get it.” He added that if a serving military officer of the rank of brigadier or lieutenant-general gets land, he would not be allotted more land even if he gets promoted to the rank of a general.
Meanwhile, military sources, on the condition of anonymity, said: “Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif is given land strictly in accordance with the relevant rules and provisions.”
They said it was agricultural land and added that it could not be used for commercial or some other purposes. They said in case of any emergency, this land could be taken back.
Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood while talking to The Express Tribune, said: “I am not sure but [Gen Raheel] Sharif must be given land in accordance with the available provisions,” adding, “It is necessary to have information about the record of land given to other generals so that a comparison can be made.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2017.