The Supreme Court has asked the government to entrust Gun Club to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday, heard the case of handing over of 72 acres of state land to the club`s management at throw away price. The court observed that PSB is an appropriate body to run the affairs of the gun shooting club, instead of the present private administrator, Faisal Sakhi Butt, purported to be a close aide of a VVIP personality.
The court directed Butt to submit a comprehensive report about the affairs and activities of the club within two weeks and send copies of it to all stakeholders, including Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Maulvi Anwarul Haq, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Mobilink Pakistan, PSB and Secretary Capital Administration Development Division (CADD). The court also asked the government to retrieve 72 acres of land from the club if it is found to be allotted illegally and directed the AGP to submit a report on the club’s legal status.
During the course of the hearing, the CJ observed that the word “gun” had been excluded from the club’s name in the amended contract and enquired how a shooting club could be converted into a country club.
On the 44 acres of land allotted to the club ‘illegally’, CDA’s lawyer Chaudhry Muhammad Ramzan informed the court that the additional land was acquired to provide a “safety zone” for the shooting club.
Chief Justice Chaudhry asked CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi to explain his position as a member of the club’s management committee.
Mobilink’s Assistant Legal Director Hafiz Mudasir informed the court that the company was not looking after the administrative affairs of the club. However, it had purchased the rights of advertisement. The court directed the legal director to submit details of its branding rights that have been granted to Mobilink by the club’s administration.
On the appointment of the club’s present administrator, Barrister Masroor Shah representing the Gun Club said that the decision was taken by President Zardari. The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
The club’s establishment became controversial after the National Assembly`s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in its March 9 meeting questioned land allocation to the club. The federal auditors told PAC that the PSB handed over 72 acres of land on Garden Avenue to the Gun Club in violation of rules. PSB official informed PAC that the land was not their property or the ministry’s but was entrusted under the control of PSB, adding it was given to the Gun Club on the directives of former president Pervez Musharraf.
A clarification published in media on Sunday by the management of the club read, “The Gun and Country Club is not owned by any individual. It is a non-profit making, semi government, autonomous organisation having president of Pakistan as its ex officio patron.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.