Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday said that the law did not allow land meant for defence purposes to be used for commercial gains, reports Dawn.

CJP Gulzar further said that such land should be returned to the government once its strategic use has ended. He said this during the hearing on the issue of military lands being used for commercial purposes.

Grilling Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Mian Mohammad Hilal Hussain, CJP Gulzar said, “The law’s intention is not that defence land is used for any other purpose,” Justice Gulzar reiterated. “If [the land] is not being used for defence then it will go back to the government.”

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“This is government land,” CJP Gulzar said, further taking notice that cinemas, petrol pumps, housing societies, shopping malls and marriage halls were being constructed on land meant for defence.

“General sahib, these are not defence purposes,” he told the defence secretary, asking the attorney general to explain how the defence ministry would “limit the land’s use to defence”.

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Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, one of the judges present on the bench during the hearing, said, “The army should not compromise on its bigger objectives for petty business.”

The CJP further said that “allotting houses to senior army officers does not fall under defence purposes”.

“How can the army carry out commercial activities on state land?” he questioned, emphasising that state land should not be “exploited”.