- By Khalid Nawaz Khattak
The promise of affordable housing for low-income segment of Pakistan’s population was one of the key endeavors of the former Prime Minister, Imran Khan under his revolutionary initiative and slogan “Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar” (My Pakistan, My Home).
The Peshawar Residencia (PR) project was announced as part of this initiative in 2019-2020, with the aim to provide affordable dwellings for homeless and low-income populace of the country, in general and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in particular. As the promise of Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation (PHA-F), Islamabad, the mega project was to be completed in three years. However, it has been more than three years since the announcement and collecting billions from the allotees in the form of down-payments and/or installments and sitting on that stiggerling high amount of hard cash for that period, PHA-F has been failed to deliver on its promises.
The dismal state of affairs is not only raising numerous questioning questions but casts shadows that whether it was a dream for the homeless people or a scam to grab hard earned money of the low-income group with very little saving base and income margin including overseas Pakistanis with earnings made in difficult living and working conditions.
As mentioned earlier, the project is launched by the PHA-F, Islamabad, in collaboration with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Housing Authority (KP-PHA), Peshawar, while the former being implementing partner has collected billions of rupees in down payment and/or installments from the general public through catchy, attractive, and colorful advertisements. However, just after a year, it was revealed that the land for the proposed project is disputed and had not been cleared before being offered to the general public, making it impossible to be accessed by the PHA-F let alone start of any kind of physical work on the project. This news was a great shock to the poor homeless local as well as overseas Pakistanis, who had invested their life long savings in the project. Subsequently, affectees of this scam has formed The All Allottees Peshawar Residencia Association (AAPRA) under the firm leadership of its President, Khalid Nawaz Khattak. To begin with AAPRA held various meetings with the concerned high ups and officials from the PHA-F, KP-PHA, Minister of Housing, Commissioner of Peshawar, etc.
Unfortunately, despite these selfless and sincere efforts, no real progress has been made on the project, and the allottees have been left in the lurch. Eventually, AAPRA filled a writ petition before the honorable Peshawar High Court against the PHA-F and KP-PHA to get relief through early resolution of this fraud in the name of welfare. The situation has become so tense that the allottees are now calling on the current provincial and federal governments to notice of the scam and practical steps towards resolution of the issues hindering early initiation of the project, to fix the responsibility on the culprits on public scam and forced them to compensate the allottees.
Recently, the PHA-F and KP-PHA have made an agreement with locals people, who have mischievous claims on the land meant for the project, through the arbitration of the Commissioner of Peshawar, Mr. Riaz Mehsud among the CEO PHAF, Mr Shahid Khan, DG PHA Peshawar Mr Roshan Mehsud, and local elders, which has not yet been shared with the allottees, court or AAPRA. The Allottees strongly urge the present government to take swift action for resolving this lingering scam and ensuring the early commencement of project and timely completion.
The dream of providing affordable housing to the low-income and homeless people of the country should not be allowed to turn into a nightmare, scam, fraud, and broken promises. It is the responsibility of the present government to restore the trust of general public and ensure that the masses are not looted by someone. Moreover, to assure that the project is completed to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders involved.
The irony is, Peshawar Residencia project was supposed to be a dream for the homeless, but unfortunately it is turnening into a nightmare full of fraud and broken promises. The All Allottees Peshawar Residencia Association urge the government to take immediate actions to resolve this undated issue and ensure that the project is to be completed in a timely manner without any additional financial burden on the allotees in the name of cost escalation. It is important for the government to keep its promises and ensure that the general public, within the country and overseas trust is not betrayed in the name of welfare.
- The writer is an overseas allottee of the Peshawar Residencia, and working as Linux DevOps Engineer in Sweden.