Pak Army slapped with Rs 120 bn `bill` for using stadium

Defence Secretary accuses auditor-general of Pakistan of maligning the Army.

Updated: Jan 21, 2011, 13:41 PM IST

Islamabad: The Pakistan Army has been slapped with a whopping Rs 120 billion (USD 1.3 billion) `bill` for using a Lahore stadium for decades by the auditor general of Pakistan.

There were tense moments during the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday when Defence Secretary Lt Gen (Retd) Athar Ali accused the auditor-general of Pakistan of maligning the Army by sending it a `bill` of Rs 120 billion for using the Fortress Stadium in Lahore ‘illegally` for decades, the Express Tribune reported.

Athar Ali spoke up after the attorney-general brought an audit paragraph before the committee that said the Army has been illegally using more than a 100,000 square-yard-area of the Fortress Stadium for commercial purposes without any lawful authority.

The attorney-general claimed that the rent generated from this commercial activity was deposited into military accounts, not with the government.

The official was quoted as saying that a total of Rs 120 billion were collected by the military from this activity and that the amount should now be deposited with the government in its consolidated fund.

Athar Ali said this was an attempt to malign the Army and stressed that the army could not have collected such a huge amount from the Fortress Stadium.

The PAC formed a joint committee, comprising members of the audit department and the defence and finance ministries, to probe the matter and submit its report within a month for a final decision, the media report said.

Committee chairman Nisar Ali Khan said the Army was being brought into disrepute by some individuals for their personal interests, as a result of which the whole institution was paying the price.