The saga of Malik Riaz’s success is not just about a poor man making it big in a rich man’s world. It is more about the manner in which he did that. This tells about the country where bribery and kickbacks and the use of brutal state apparatus against helpless people can make you a tycoon—it just takes a few years. And this also says something about the state of affairs in the Army that promoted him and still retains him as a partner.
Malik Riaz got his big break when he lured the Pakistan Navy, called Bahria in Urdu, into starting a real estate venture with him. Since the armed forces were the biggest land developers in the country, before Malik Riaz arrived, the name tag Bahria mattered.
The military remains one of the biggest business groups in the country so any khaki connection gives the perception of stability. Or so was the situation before Army Welfare Trust (AWT) and Fauji Foundation got into some dubious economic setbacks. This has taken away some lustre off these corporate giants in the last 15 years. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was great to be associated with anything labeled ‘Askari.’ Malik Riaz got his breakthrough when the Navy got out of the joint venture with him but he retained the name tag Bahria. He has not looked back since then.
How he built the Bahria empire has all ingredients of a block-buster thriller. Except romance, you will find here every shade of action from the deep mystery about embezzling billions of rupees, the conspiracy at the highest levels to assassination accusations of Generals. Some of the charges are really serious.
An application of a land developer, Dr Shafiqur Rehman before the Supreme Court, which also got published in national dailies, should illustrate this. Dr Shafiqur Rehman is involved in litigation over land with Malik Riaz for the last 17 years.
He accused Malik Riaz of murdering former AWT Managing Director Lt-Gen Imtiaz. Police investigation declared that Imtiaz committed suicide and his family agreed with the conclusion. However, the application alleged that General Imtiaz being the AWT MD procured huge loans for DHA Islamabad at the behest of Malik Riaz. This is the same money that was paid to Bahria in advance for DHA Valley development for which the land acquisition is yet to complete. Remember the Rs 62 billion scam.
He goes on to allege that General Imtiaz as the Adjutant General (AG) Army and then AWT boss extended undue favours to Riaz. The DHA Valley joint venture, signed among the DHA, Bahria Town and Habib Rafiq Limited hugely favoured Malik Riaz as Imtiaz did not watch the DHA interests.
Shafiq alleged that the DHA was in no position to pay back the money. Imtiaz, who knew too much and was part of the whole scheme, was eliminated as a scapegoat.
Dr Shafiqur Rehman also accused Malik Riaz of murdering one Mansur Janjua who was an obstacle in a land development scheme in Sihala. He was allegedly killed because he being a friend of somebody very powerful was dangerous.
The application ends on a sinister note predicting that Islamabad DHA officials, who had benefitted Bahria Town at some stage, will get killed one by one. Author Geoffery Archer could not have written a better plot.
The application was not entertained by the Supreme Court but remains part of the official record and the news reporting its contents remains uncontested.
What’s going on here, one may ask. Clearly lots of money was made in lots of dirty deals, particularly in the last four years of the Musharraf government. The Director Generals of Welfare and Rehabilitation clearly obliged Malik Riaz, obviously not without a share in the pie, and have now left a trail of controversies for the Army to handle. We are told that the person who made the mega bucks is not even in the country. These dubious deals have virtually made the Army’s corporate empire bankrupt. And the focal point of the whole scam remains one old MES clerk, dear old Malik Riaz, No wonder he likes to be called Sultana Daku.
Sadly, the issue is still being pushed under the carpet and no attempt is being made to rectify the situation. It was funny when National Accountability Bureau took up the case under its wing. Malik Riaz got the copyrights of the title Bahria when former Admiral Fasih Bokhari was reasonably senior in Navy. Is there a connection here? A lawyer contesting cases against Malik Riaz in the Supreme Court was quoted as saying that he had submitted evidence of agreements between Malik Riaz and Fasih Bukhari with the court. “The NAB is laundry that they want to clean their mess,” he said.
In any other country, State Institutions keep themselves miles away from somebody who is accused of murder, extortion, land-grabbing, forgery, fraud, to name a few of the ‘charms that he is regularly accused of in hundreds of cases. Not so in his country where Malik Riaz remains the most sought after person.
The DHAs of Karachi and Lahore are supervised by the Corps Commanders but the Islamabad is handled by the GHQ, which means that the responsibility of anything that goes wrong here can be attributed to the Chief of Army Staff. The plight of the hundreds of DHA Valley victims, including the families of the martyrs, has damaged the morale of the institution.
This lust for super DHAs has also created a wedge between the civilians and the Army. As the one and only, Munnoo Bhai describes his new interpretation of the Two Nation Theory: There are two nations in Pakistan. One that lives in cantonments and the other that doesn’t.
Not only that, it has also created a wedge between the Army and the lesser privileged Air Force and the Navy. Will somebody do something about it.
(See some evidence at the end of the page)
Published on: thespokesman.pk