ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Zarai-Taraqiati Bank Limited to approach the Peshawar High Court regarding write off loan of Malakand, Swat and Bonair citizens, affected by the military operation.

Heading a three-member bench, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali said the State Bank of Pakistan has ‘write off loans policy’ in black and white, adding since the creation of Pakistan the loans of influential people were written off in every tenure. The court disposed of the appeals of ZTBL employees against the Peshawar High Court judgment. Upholding the PHC verdict, the bench said that the bank employees were not tilted to benefit from the scheme.

The PPP government in 2011 had announced to waive off loans of Swat, Malakand and Bonair citizens, who were affected by the military operation in those areas. However, the State Bank and Zarai-e-Taraqiati had refused to comply the government directive. Therefore, the affectees of those areas approached the Peshawar High Court, which passed a verdict in their favour. The ZTBL had challenged the PHC decision in the apex court.

Salman Akram Raja advocate, representing ZTBL, contended that the government could not give such orders to the banks to write off loans. The court questioned why not the ZTBL challenged the government directive at an appropriate forum (PHC). It said now the apex court was asked to take notice of it, adding the bank should have raised this issue before the high court.

The counsel told that it was problematic for the government institutions to approach the court against the government, therefore, the top court give observation in this regard. The bench accepting his plea directed the ZTBL to approach the competent forum, which is the PHC.

Salman argued that the employees of the bank also belonged to Swat, Malakand and Bonair, adding their houses were also damaged in the military operation. He said the bank employees had also obtained loans from the ZTBL, therefore, they should get benefit of the government scheme. However, the court rejected his request and disposed of the matter.