KARACHI: The Sindh High Court suspended the Sindh government’s notification to hand over Bagh Ibne Qasim to Bahria Town for ten years till further orders. A two-member bench headed by Justice Muhammad Junaid Ahmed Ghaffar issued notices to the respondents – the Sindh chief secretary, local government secretary, Bahria Town and others to submit their respective replies until April 18. “The notification will remain suspended till the next hearing,” the bench ruled. The court was hearing the petition filed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader and Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar assailing the notification of the Sindh government through which it handed over the iconic park to Bahria Town. The petitioner contended that Bagh Ibne Qasim, the city’s iconic park, was under administrative control of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and couldn’t be handed over through a notification issued by the local government department. They city mayor argued that the notification was illegal and unlawful and requested the judges to declare it as illegal. The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf had also petitioned the high court requesting it to issue directives to the provincial authorities to withdraw the notification with regard to the park deal with a private property developer. PTI leader Imran Ismail named Sindh chief secretary, local government secretary, Karachi mayor, municipal commissioner, Board of Revenue and Bahria Town as respondents. He submitted in the petition that Bagh Ibne Qasim, the city’s iconic park, was spread over 130 acres and frequented by over 10 million peoples each year. The facility’s turtle pond, greenery, beauty, murals of dinosaurs, and its attachment with the heritage site, Jehangir Kothari Parade built on a piece of land donated by Seth Jahangir Hormusji Kothari to the city, attracted a large number of visitors . He recalled that the park was developed in a record period of less than a year after removing encroachments from 70 acres of its land in February 07. He said the Sindh government had issued a notification on March 30, handing over the park to a real estate giant, Bahria Town for ten years for its beautification. The decision was taken to save the public funds, but rather it would prove futile and pave way for encroachments upon the invaluable property, he argued. The petitioner submitted that the park was in close proximity to the Bahria Icon Tower Project, a 60 storey structure, and therefore, it was possible that this park may be used for commercial purposes. He added that the reports were also rife that a piece of park would be used by the firm for its commercial activities. Moreover, he said, the provincial authorities disregarded the legal procedure before striking any deal with the firm as it did not invite any offers, bids or expression of interest. Therefore, the notification and agreement in respect of the park was arbitrary, illegal and nullity in the eyes of law and liable to annulled, he added. Ismail contended that the authorities without providing any opportunity to general public and other private developers interested in beautification of the facility handed over the park to Bahria Town. Besides, he said, salaries to workers would be paid by the KMC, putting extra burden on the national exchequer. The petitioner pleaded the court to declare the Sindh government’s agreement with the firm as illegal and direct the authorities to withdraw the notification in this regard.