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RAWALPIND: Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday approached a sessions court to challenge the notice issued by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) ordering AML chief to vacate land and rooms adjacent to his Lal Haveli residence located in Rawalpindi.

The AML chief approached the court of Additional Sessions Judge Khursheed Alam Bhatti requesting to direct the ETPB to refrain from taking any action against the Lal Haveli till the court’s decision. Following Rashid’s petition, the court issued a notice to the director of the ETPB to appear before it.

The court ordered the director ETPB to present himself on Tuesday with a complete record and warned the ETPB from taking any action.

The petition said that Lal Haveli is the former interior minister’s property and this is only done on the basis of political vendetta. The petitioner’s lawyer claimed that Lal Haveli has been owned by Rashid for several decades.

The AML chief’s nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafique, also appeared before the court. The court said that the hearing will take place on October 24.

Rashid, while talking to media persons, said that he has served 16 ministries and the government wanted to punish him but after the failure of all the agencies in finding anything against him during the investigation now they have targeted Lal Haveli. He added that “this is not Nine Zero”, a reference to MQM’s headquarters in Karachi, which was raided by the Rangers in March 2015.

The former interior minister said that the “incompetent” rulers are giving us recognition while dishonouring themselves. “Lal Haveli is a history that no one can remove,” he added.

A day earlier, Rashid and his brother Sheikh Siddique were served notices to vacate Lal Haveli.

Deputy Administrator of the board Asif Khan had warned that the occupied property will be reclaimed with the help of police if not vacated within seven days. He also wrote a letter to deputy commissioner Rawalpindi for police assistance on October 19.

Khan said that several hearings have been held in this regard, however, Rashid and his brother have failed to submit any authentic documents.

Meanwhile, the ETPB has announced the verdict in the Lal Haveli case after 27 years, declaring the occupation of Lal Haveli and other seven residents illegal by Sheikh Rashid and his brother. The Deputy administrator ETPB on September 26 has reserved the decision in Lal Haveli case.

According to the verdict, Sheikh Rashid and his brother failed to produce any proof to claim the Lal Haveli, saying that owing to the political influence the case kept on pending for 27 years. The ETPB has also rejected Sheikh Rashid and his brother’s plea to regularise and transfer the Lal Haveli and other properties to the name.

The official said that as per the law, the tenants had no authority to sub-let the leased property or change the original structure. The ETPB took the action on the violation, he added.

Seven units adjacent to Lal Haveli were on lease to seven different tenants, but Rashid used it as part of his Lal Haveli residence, he alleged.

According to the ETPB, a 140 square feet room was being used as the kitchen of Lal Haveli and an area measuring nine metres and 84 square feet was being used as rooms for security guards of the former federal minister. The ETPB had given this property to Wilayat Jan, widow of Ayub Shah.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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