The Rs 25 Billion Golf Course Scandal
Why is the Railways Minister concealing
One hundred and Fifty acres of prime Canal Road land in Dharampura,
Lahore is being mysteriously turned into a Golf Course for Railway
Executives under the controversial Railways Minister, Javed Ashraf
Qazi, and not a soul has been told why and how he has been allowed
by General Pervez Musharraf to bring the entire government into
Golf Course will be part of the Railway Officers Colony, a privilege
which no other group in the country has ever enjoyed. Basically
95 per cent of the poor and hard pressed Railways employees would
also not be eligible to even enter the Golf Course which will
stay a private and privileged resort for the country’s elite.
The circumstances under which the
contract for the Golf Course and the Officers Colony has been
awarded has generated a lot of suspicion and doubt and not even
a respected person like former Finance Minister, Dr Mubashir Hasan,
has been provided any detail about the prime land being converted
into an entertainment resort for a few officials.
The Railway authorities claim that
they are going to get a Licensing Fee of US $2.5 million besides
an extra amount of Rs 15 million as “annual rental”
for next 49 years, which shows the land has been leased out for
the next 49 years.
But nothing more about the deal,
secretly done by Javed Ashraf Qazi, is known. Dr Mubashir Hasan
has been banging his head against a brick wall to get some more
details because as a Lahori resident he is more concerned about
his city’s future. He has been stonewalled.
first attempt was to write to the Railways authorities seeking
details about the deal. Click to Read
his Letter Page1 | Page2 No
one answered. He waited and waited and then he wrote to the Public
Accounts Committee to seek details.
The PAC of Mr H. U. Beg sent a routine
query to the Railway authorities but the arrogant and headstrong
Javed Ashraf Qazi refused to share any information until the matter
was raised by some members at a PAC meeting on Railways.
the utter shock of every body the Railways Chairman said the project
was “a national security matter” and no details could
be given “because the Press will make a scandal out of it.”
So he was actually hiding a scandal.
Dr Mubashir Hasan, in his letter
to Secretary Railways Division, Government of Pakistan, had asked
some simple questions to ascertain whether the project met the
normal standards of transparency and whether equal opportunity
was afforded to every body interested.
His questions included:
- The terms drawn by the Railways
for pre-qualification of the firms;
- The names of the firms, which were eventually pre-qualified;
- Terms laid down in bid documents on which prices were invited
from pre-qualified firms;
- Names of the firms which submitted their bids with the amounts
offered by them.
- He sought clarification whether the land measuring 50 acres,
presently under Railway Officers Canal Bank Colony, was also part
of the original bid document.
- He also wanted to know if tenders were invited on international
basis if the intention was to get foreign firms.
- He also demanded a copy of the final documents of the Lease
Deed signed with the Malaysian firms.
Dr. Mubashir’s questions were
very pertinent as such a huge deal which would yield a Licensing
Fee of $2.5 million needed to pass through very stringent Transparency
tests and had proper international bidding being done, much more
revenues could have been generated.
the since an ex-ISI chief was handling the matter under a military
government, who could question the intentions or honesty of the
project managers who thought they were above and beyond any accountability.
Now the whole scandal has erupted
into the face of Javed Ashraf Qazi and his attitude and behaviour
has raised a million more questions about the Lahore Golf Course
than he would have imagined.