LAHORE: There may be several reasons for Khosas of Dera Ghazi Khan to quit the PML-N but the recent episode that forced them to take ‘final decision’ is a dispute over occupation of a school in Gaddie village.
The school was established in 1915 and catered to the needs of a population of about 50,000. This is the only high school in the area. Khosas claim that the school had been built on the land ancestrally owned by them. “The matter had been in the courts for years and in 2007, the Lahore High Court had decided that the land of the school was a government property as Khosa had been given the land in lieu years ago,” says Aleem Khan, former MPA and a PML-Q leader.
“Khosas manipulated the record with the help of local patwari and tehsildar after coming to power in 2008 and tried to re-occupy the school in the last days of July,” he added.A large number of Khosa family supporters rushed to the school and with the help of armed men started razing its walls. Their action made the local people furious and they gathered on the spot and tried to stop the demolition. Announcements were made in mosques that gathered several thousands of people, creating a law and order issue. The local administration rushed to the school and tried control the situation but the furious mob was ready to die for the school. The administration was forced to stop Khosas by force. They arrested Shafqat Nadeem Khosa, a cousin of Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa. On getting the report, Khosas contacted the district administration and asked it to refrain from interfering in the matter.
This situation was a cause of humiliation for Khosas and they forced their elder, Zulfiqar Ali Khosa, to quit Shahbaz Sharif government. Pertinent to mention here is that the elder son of the Chief Khosa, Hassamuddin Khosa and youngest member of the family, Dost Muhammad Khosa, had already distanced from the ‘Sharifs’ for different reasons.The allegation of land grabbing against Khosas was not new as their record is already tainted. The story dates back when Dost Muhammad Khosa took the office of chief executive of the province soon after the general elections of 2008 as a reward for his father’s loyalty with the PML-N. After a few weeks, Shahbaz Sharif was elected unopposed from PP 42 (Bhakkar) and became the chief minister.
Announcing his cabinet soon after taking oath, Shahbaz rewarded his obedient party-mate with the important Ministry of Local Governments and Rural Development. The young sardar of the Khosa tribe served there for about two years after which Shahbaz reshuffled the cabinet and changed Khosa’s portfolio, asking him to take charge of the Commerce and Investment Department. Khosa did not accept the decision and went back to his city, Dera Ghazi Khan. His absence sparked several rumours, including that of his separation from the party.Political opponents and even his party men pointed fingers at him and said that he was involved in corruption. The chief minister, however, did not give any such signal, but one of his closest courtiers was of the view that Shahbaz used his discretion, and changing the portfolio was not a significant phenomenon. The political circles, however, did not agree with this.
It is said that some irregularities by young Khosa had been brought to the CM’s notice and allotment of land to Khosa’s personal staff members by him was one of the reasons. Dost Khosa allotted a 15-marla plot in Katchi Abadi Block No 39 to someone. This land was worth Rs 15 million, but had been allotted at Rs 172 per marla. It was allotted showing that it was occupied, while records showed it was not. A letter sent to the Katchi Abadis director general by the then tehsil nazim verifies the fact. The tehsil nazim has asked the authorities concerned not to allot this plot to anyone.
Similarly, the tehsil administration holds another storage place of 43 marlas. In the place of the owner’s name in the records, it was written “Municipal Committee”. Dost Khosa, using his discretion, got four plots of five marlas each allotted to his personal servants, showing the land as part of katchi abadi, Fateh Jang. Records show the piece of land is not part of katchi abadi, rather a property of the Municipal Committee, but the land had been transferred, which is verified by the transfer register Nos 900174 and 900176. Locals protested against the allotments and carried out rallies, which were addressed by former tehsil nazim Mehmud Qadri, Tahir Bilal Toor, Hafiz Khalid Rauf, Sheikh Usman Farooq, Akbar Malkani, Sheikh Abdus Sattar and many others. They all threatened to reach Lahore and protest in front of the Chief Minister’s House.
The locals also complained of bungling in allotting tenders to different contractors after getting “commission.” They sent written complaints to the Punjab chief minister and provincial and district administrations.Party insiders say that after knowing these facts, Shahzab was forced to change Dost Muhammad Khosa’s portfolio. An insider, on condition of anonymity, said Shahbaz Sharif ironically asked Dost Khosa the secret to his ‘income’ that enabled him to buy two vehicles worth Rs 22 million in a very short span of time after assuming the office.
Dost Khosa showed his displeasure over his new assignment. His father, Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan, also kept mum over the issue. It is said that Shahbaz took the matter seriously and talked to Zulfiqar Khosa, who said the young Khosa would assume charge of the department allotted to him soon, but nothing changed since then.The two Khosas met Shahbaz over breakfast and the young Khosa sought some time to decide about the situation. He took the charge of the office after some weeks but the differences persisted. Then Sapna episode rose and differences were deepened. Several other issues piled up with the passage of time and ultimately Khosas made the announcement of relinquishing their offices. – Dailytimes