Fact-check: True. Sindh govt ready to hand over state land to Pakistan Army for corporate farming
Senior officials and official documents reveal that the Sindh province is indeed open to leasing out upward to 70,000 acres of state land to the Pakistan Army
Updated Wednesday Nov 15 2023
Multiple social media posts allege that the Sindh government will be handing over thousands of acres of government-owned land to the Pakistan army for farming in the province.
The claim is accurate.
On October 23, an account on X, formerly known as Twitter, claimed that the government in Sindh would be transferring 43,000 acres of land to the Pakistan military.
“The army will start various projects including fish farming through joint ventures,” the account wrote, “For this purpose, more than 28,000 acres of land will be given in Khairpur, 11,000 acres in Keti Bandar, 3,400 acres in Shah Bandar and 1,000 acres of land in Badin have been declared vacant, as per sources.”
This post had been viewed over 20,000 times, reposted 89 times and liked over 250 times, at the time of writing.
Senior officials and official documents reveal that the Sindh province is indeed open to leasing out upward to 70,000 acres of state land to the Pakistan Army for corporate agriculture farming.
It is unclear as of now if more land will be transferred to the military at a later date.
Neither could Geo Fact Check independently verified the exact areas where the land will be transferred, as was being claimed online, since officials told Geo Fact Check that the details are still being finalized.
One internal document, seen by Geo Fact Check, states that the chief secretary of Sindh had directed the provincial Board of Revenue and the Land Utilization Department to collect reports from all divisional commissioners of Sindh regarding the availability of state land “lying available along with the coastal areas of Hyderabad Division and barren lands, which can be leased out and utilized for corporate agriculture farming”.
The document then claims that the Pakistan army is equipped to take on farming as it “has a fleet of well-trained manpower which relies on the latest farming techniques”.
In another letter, dated May 27, sent by the Office of the Commissioner Hyderabad Division to the secretary of the Land Utilization Department in Sindh, the former writes that over 70,000 acres of state land in the Hyderabad Division would be “suitable for leasing out for corporate agriculture farming” to the military.
The letter adds that these 70,000 acres, of cultivable and uncultivable land, can be arranged in Tando Muhammad Khan, Dadu, Thatta and Sujawal.
Separately, minutes of a Special Investment Facilitation Council meeting held on October 4, seen by Geo Fact Check, reveal that the caretaker government of Sindh has informed the federal government that 49,000 hectares (121,081 acres) of cultivable land are also available for farming in the “peri-urban areas of Karachi”.
Meanwhile, a senior official of the Land Utilization Department in Sindh, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, further confirmed to Geo Fact Check that a letter was sent last month by the caretaker prime minister’s office to the interim Sindh government asking about progress in the matter.
“After that in early November we began a survey of the land,” the official added, “When the survey is complete then we will know the exact stretch of land that will be given [to the military].”
The official then explained that the state land will be leased out to the Pakistan Army for multiple projects such as fish farming and agriculture, for a period of 15 to 20 years.
The official, however, said that the exact areas where the land will be allotted to the military have yet to be determined. “A survey is being conducted right now in Sindh’s Tharparkar, Mithi, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, Sukkar, Rohri and Dadu areas.”
Another official from BOR, who did not want to be named, also said he had seen such a letter from the federal government, adding that in fact the first time the federal government had asked Sindh about the availability of government-owned land for projects by the Pakistan Army was when the elected coalition government was in power.
It is important to note that a similar corporate farming project had been initiated by the Pakistan Army in the Punjab province, where it has requested up to 1 million acres of state land in three phases.
Earlier this year, the transfer was suspended by the Lahore High Court after it ruled that the military did not have the constitutional mandate to take up commercial ventures. However, later another bench of the Court allowed the caretaker government in Punjab to hand over the land for a period of 20 years to the military.
With reporting by Rasheed Memon, a correspondent of the Daily Kawish newspaper in Sindh, and additional reporting by Saman Amjad.
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