Friday, February 08, 2013

Zardari's palatial private villa having landing strip nears completion

Lahore: A sprawling high-security private residence for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, complete with bomb-proof structures and a landing strip for small jets and helicopters, is nearing completion.
The compound in Bahria Town, spread over some 200 kanals or 25 acres, is named Bilawal House after Zardari's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
According to a senior Pakistan Peoples Party official from Punjab, who did not want to be named, the residence has been gifted to Zardari by property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain.
The bomb-proof home is surrounded by lawns that can accommodate up to 10,000 people and has a runway for private jets and helicopters.
The residence has bedrooms, conference rooms and offices.
The compound is surrounded by 30-inch high walls fitted with security gadgets.
Once completed, the residence will have a three-tier security system, sources said.
Zardari, who is due to arrive in Lahore on Sunday, is expected to visit Bilawal House with his son, the sources said.
Bilawal House is located about 1.5 km from former premier Nawaz Sharif's palatial residence at Raiwind Road that is spread over 300 acres.
Sharif's residence has a mini zoo and is ringed by orchards and agricultural land.
The Bhutto-Zardari family have another Bilawal House in the southern port city of Karachi.
The residence in Lahore will serve as the main base in Punjab province for Bilawal during campaigning for the upcoming general election.
Property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, who is believed to be close to Zardari, was at the centre of a controversy last year after he alleged that he funded three foreign trips by Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Hussain also claimed he had spent Rs 342 million on Iftikhar to influence cases in the apex court.
The Supreme Court recently declared that matters involving Hussain and Iftikhar were a private issue between two individuals and they could resort to legal proceedings against each other.


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