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IHC takes up today hearing of Brigadiers (Retd) working for Bahria Town who were offloaded from a Saudi-bound flight

ISLAMABAD: Why were three Bahria Town officials offloaded from a Saudi Arabia-bound flight? This is the question the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has posed to the government, in a case scheduled for hearing today (Thursday).

The query arises from three separate petitions filed by retired brigadiers Tahir Butt and Zafar Iqbal Shah, along with Manzoor Hussain Mughal, with each petition set for hearing before a different bench. Butt heads ‘Land Security‘ for Bahria Town, Shah also manages land-related matters, and Mughal is the chief surveyor for all real estate projects of the controversial property developer Malik Riaz.

Recently, both Bahria Town and Malik Riaz have been in the spotlight after Riaz made unusual social media posts claiming he was under pressure to take a political stance. This was followed by a raid on the real estate firm’s Rawalpindi offices by the National Accountability Bureau and local law enforcement on Tuesday.

Observers suggest this is linked to the £190 million corruption reference in the Al Qadir Trust case against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi. Malik Riaz and his family members have been declared proclaimed offenders by the court for not appearing in this case.

Malik Riaz, known for his extensive connections within political circles and the country’s civil and military establishments, has seen Bahria Town embroiled in multiple legal troubles. The real estate developer has faced numerous court cases alleging the use of dubious and forceful land acquisition tactics for its luxurious projects.

In court, the three Bahria Town officials argued they were disembarked by immigration staff from a flight to Saudi Arabia at Islamabad airport while en route to perform Umrah.

Of the three cases, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb converted the petition before him into a representation and referred it to the Ministry of Interior for a speaking order. Meanwhile, Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Arbab Mohammad Tahir issued notices to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The FIA responded by submitting the ‘Stoplist Document‘ from the Integrated Border Management System (IBMS), which indicated that the three men were placed on the Passport Control List upon the recommendation of General Headquarters, Rawalpindi. An FIA official confirmed that the petitioners were blacklisted on the recommendation of an intelligence agency.

The agency’s written statement explained that the IBMS is integrated with the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports in Islamabad to facilitate the real-time transmission of information. Once an individual’s name is placed or removed from the Passport Control List, this information is immediately transmitted to the FIA IBMS for implementation by immigration authorities.

The court has requested the Ministry of Defence to clarify why the officials’ names were placed on the stop list. A response is expected when the matter is taken up today.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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