The Lahore High Court (LHC) has reversed its previous ruling, allowing the Punjab caretaker government to lease land in three districts to the Pakistan Army for a 20-year corporate farming project. Earlier, the LHC had put a stop to the government’s plan after a petition was filed by Ahmad Rafay Alam on behalf of the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan.
Under the agreement signed in March, the Punjab government had agreed to lease around 45,267 acres of land in Bhakkar, Khushab, and Sahiwal districts to the Pakistan Army for Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF). However, the LHC ruled that the caretaker government did not have the constitutional or legal authority to make decisions regarding the CAF initiative.
In response, the caretaker Punjab government appealed the ruling and argued that the court’s stay order contradicted the law. They contended that it was within their jurisdiction to implement or finalize pending decisions or policies from the previous government.
During July 17th hearing, a two-member bench led by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi reviewed the government’s plea and decided to suspend the previous ruling, allowing the land transfer to proceed.
The agreement Involves collaboration between the military, Punjab government, and private firms. The Punjab government will provide the land, while the army will manage the project using their resources. Additionally, the private sector will invest and offer support, including the supply of fertilizers.
The project aims to convert barren and under-utilized land into fertile agricultural fields. The revenue generated from the cultivation will be allocated, with a percentage going to the Punjab government and another portion dedicated to modern research and development in the agriculture sector. The remaining funds will be used for subsequent crops and expanding the project.
This initiative will involve the cultivation of various crops, starting with pulses, millets, and rice, followed by canola and wheat cultivation in subsequent phases. The army has confirmed that they will not take ownership of the land, as it will remain the property of the Punjab government.
By leasing this land to the Pakistan Army, the government hopes to boost agricultural productivity, contribute to food security, and promote economic growth in the region.