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The defence ministry, in a bid to safeguard its sailing club at Rawal Lake and Simly Dam Road farmhouses, has claimed that the approval for the use of land was granted by the president and prime minister of Pakistan in 1992, Dawn reported.

The ministry filed an intra-court appeal before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to challenge the judgement from IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah. The judgement had ordered the demolition of the sailing club while instructing the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to take over the farmhouses. The appeal is now expected to be taken up next week.

In its appeal, the ministry claimed that in 1992, then president of Pakistan approved the creation of seven new directorates in the Naval Headquarters. It was through this directive, that a housing scheme was established on Simly Dam Road for Naval officers out of funds that they raised.

The appeal further said that the single-member bench did not consider facts, while exercising judicial writ to a matter that was actually under the CDA. Maintaining this stance, the appeal has asked the court to set aside any findings against Pakistan Navy, its former chief and other officials.

In Justice Minallah’s January 7th judgement, he had written “the mandate of the armed forces of Pakistan has been described in chapter 2 of part XII of the Constitution.”

The court called it ‘an irony of fate that “the chief of naval staff and one of the branches of the armed forces i.e. the Pakistan Navy [was] involved in violating the enforced laws and transgressions from the mandate prescribed under the supreme law of the country, the Constitution.”

Rebutting the court’s judgement, the navy referred to Article 245, pointing out “while interpreting the constitutional provisions with respect to the armed forces it must be remembered that the Constitution in term of Article 245 requires the armed forces to defend Pakistan against external aggression, but does not direct them to give their life if required to discharge this duty, or for that matter, take [the] life of [an] enemy.”

The navy’s argument essentially said that the constitution provisions related to the armed forces discharging their duties consist of general provisions, which should be looked at in the same vein.

The appeal argued that if the armed forces only act upon what is expressly mentioned in the constitution, it would result in soldiers returning from the line of defence, as dying or killing to defend the country are not provisions of the Pakistani constitution.

The appeal, in relation to the sailing club, said “Navy has been maintaining, in possession of the area of the centre at Rawal Lake for the last 25 years… to develop capacity of young athletes in water sports… to inculcate interest in rowing, sailing and other water sports.”

The navy maintained that the water sports centre is not a club nor is it a commercial enterprise, while also saying that the navy had already responded to CDA in connection with building regulation violations.

The appeal also said that directives to set up water sports centres in six places, including Rawal Lake, were given on October 18, 1992, by then prime minister of Pakistan and that it was in compliance with the given directives. The building was also upgraded in 2018, 25 years after it was established.

The ministry has asked the court to reverse its decision to transfer farms to the CDA while also reversing the decision to demolish the sailing club.