Karachi's Bahria Town Private City is Bigger Than San Francisco

Karachi's Bahria Town being built on the outskirts of Pakistan's financial capital is among the world's largest privately developed and managed cities.  It is spread over an area of a little over 70 square miles, larger than the 49 square miles area of San Francisco. When completed, Bahria Town will house over a million people, more than the entire population of San Francisco.

Bahria Town Karachi

The city comes complete with private roads, community parks, mosques, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, libraries, business parks, restaurants, recreation facilities, sports grounds, shopping malls etc. It has been the subject of litigation by local  villagers who claim that their land was unlawfully taken away from them to build this new city. Pakistan Supreme Court recently reviewed their cases and forced a settlement worth Rs. 406 billion to be paid by Bahria Town developer named Malik Riaz Hussain.

Karachi: Bahria Town Square



Bahria Town and other similar private cities and gated communities are popular with Pakistan's rising middle class. They are looking to escape the chaos of the nation's burgeoning cities unable to cope with the massive and uncontrolled waves of urbanization. The issues facing Pakistani cities range from lack of basic services to rising urban crime.
Karachi: Bahria Town Housing


The private city promises to “turn the vision of modern Pakistan into a reality”, with private and secure supplies of water, gas and electricity, garbage collection as well as private security and well maintained wide tree-lined roads.
Karachi: Bahria Town Nature Recreation Area


In a recent article published by India's Scroll.in, Samira Shackle argues that "the reason a privatized city is so much quicker and easier to build is not down to the inherent superiority of the free market, but because it removes power from people and communities and centralizes it into the hands of one person or corporation". "This is the same dynamic at play in China, for example, where the nominally communist government has been able to build vast new towns and cities from scratch because it doesn’t have to worry about eminent domain or democratic accountability", Shackle explains.

As of 2016, the real estate developers had built over 250 gated communities across Pakistan. Hundreds more are being developed in response to rising demand from upwardly mobile Pakistanis.

Eden Housing Gated Community in Lahore, Pakistan


These communities cater to insatiable demand for world-class and well-appointed housing with modern infrastructure including well-built wide roads and reliable supply of water and electricity. Additionally, they offer various state-of-the-art amenities such as schools, hospitals, mosques, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and parks located within secure communities, according to a report by Adrian Bishop, editor of Opp.Today.

Gated communities are being offered at multiple price points and payment plans that suit not just the rich but the middle class buyers as well. They offer condos (flats), townhouses and single-family homes on lot sizes ranging from 125 square yards to  2000 square yards. These communities are fueling a construction boom in Pakistan.

Defense Housing Authority (DHA), Bahria Town (Malik Riaz), Eden Housing (Aleem Khan), Emaar Properties (of UAE) and Ghurair-Giga (of UAE) are among the biggest developers of gated communities in Pakistan.

Bahria Town Islamabad


In addition to major Pakistani cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, new gated communities are being developed in second and third tier cities as well. Recently, Bahria Town announced its newest development of a gated community in Nawabshah, a city of just over a million residents in southern Sindh province.

Here's an excerpt of a 2013 AFP report on Bahria Town gated community in Islamabad:

Cars glide softly over the smooth tarmac carpeting the gentle hills of Pakistan’s largest gated community, past immaculate green verges dotted with statues of cattle — which, unlike their real counterparts elsewhere in the country, pose no threat to traffic. 

There’s a horse riding centre, a golf course, a posh cinema, an immaculately air-conditioned café and a mini zoo with “the only black panther in Pakistan”, whose growling excites young couples taking a walk. 

Elsewhere 20 metre models of the Eiffel Tower and Nelson’s Column — complete with lions — watch over this vision of suburbia which seems a world away from the rest of Pakistan’s seething, traffic-choked and crumbling cities.
 
Here's an AFP report on Bahria Town Islamabad: 

https://youtu.be/ZvKOCZuZAiM
 Here's a video of aerial views of Bahria Town Karachi:
 
 
 
http://www.youtube.com/embed/Ta7R8f8HgmQ"; title="YouTube video player" width="560"></iframe>" height="315" src="https://img1.blogblog.com/img/video_object.png" width="560" style="cursor: move; background-color: #b2b2b2;" />

Views: 213

Comment by Afshan Bashir on October 23, 2019 at 3:45am
Bahria Town Lahore is the most futuristic modern development within Lahore itself.
Comment by Riaz Haq on December 11, 2019 at 5:10pm

Why is the #Pakistan media silent about #MalikRiaz whose family purchased Hyde Park #London property from a son of ex PM #NawazSharif ? This is the largest such settlement by British crime agency. #Corruption #MalikRiazSettlementStory @TRTWorld https://www.trtworld.com/asia/why-is-the-pakistani-media-silent-abo...

Malik Riaz has paid $250 million as part of a settlement with Britain’s money laundering investigating agency.
Most news anchors won’t speak his name during their programmes. A guest in a talk show was muted every time he mentioned his name. Mainstream newspapers ran cautious stories. Forget opinions and investigative features.

The story is about Malik Riaz, a Pakistani real estate tycoon, who just paid $250 million in a settlement and officials don’t want to discuss it.

On December 3, Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had reached a settlement with Riaz and his family as part of a year-long fraud investigation.

The money, which was confiscated from bank accounts and an expensive London mansion overlooking Hyde Park, will be transferred to the Pakistani government, the NCA said.

Riaz’s family had purchased the Hyde Park property from Hassan Nawaz, a son of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who himself faces a corruption enquiry.

This is the largest such settlement since the NCA’s mandate was updated two years ago to investigate money trail of people who might have acquired wealth from illegal means.

Bahria Town, Riaz’s company, is perhaps the largest real estate developer in Pakistan. He has built housing complexes, apartment buildings and golf courses in lavish developments that come with miniature copies of the Pyramids and amusement parks.

The Pakistan government has refused to divulge details about the settlement, saying it has been reached under a confidentiality agreement.

Riaz himself tried to spin the story by saying he’s simply bringing back money kept in foreign accounts, saying he has sold the property.

He didn’t say that the NCA was investigated him and the assets had been confiscated.

In August, the NCA froze bank accounts containing more than $150 million, which were suspected to be profits linked to kickbacks and bribes. Those accounts belonged to Malik Riaz.

Earlier this year, Riaz agreed to pay the Pakistani state around $2 billion to settle a case, which involved the illegal occupation of thousands of acres of land in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.

At the time, people had questioned how a businessman with little exposure to foreign markets had come to acquire such vast wealth in a country, which has time and again approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailouts.

“No one is developing real estate property like he does. Even his critics would want to go and live in his housing projects,” says a Karachi-based builder, who asked not to be named.

“There is an increasing dearth of homes in cities while the population is expanding rapidly. Young people are moving out of their parents’ home, siblings who once lived together in combined families, now want their own places. Malik Riaz has simply tapped this market on a grand scale.”

But Bahria Town faces accusations of manipulating land records and forcibly evicting people from their villages on the city outskirts to make way for its projects.

Riaz, a major advertising spender, has an outsized influence over media houses, which block coverage critical of the real estate tycoon.

“You can report on powerful military and extension issues of its commander but not Malik Riaz. You can imagine his influence,” a reporter told TRT World.

Bahria Town’s projects, which include thousands of residential and commercial properties, have also become a way for high-yield chasing investors to make quick money.

Thousands flocked to the Bahria Town offices when he announced a new project, trying to buy property documents, which are later sold at many times their face value on the underground market.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 1, 2021 at 9:31am

Last month, while Murad Gabol’s two children were sleeping, police raided his house. “We showed them the papers of our home, but they beat us and locked me up in jail,” Gabol said.


https://english.alaraby.co.uk/features/how-indigenous-lands-are-bei...


Noor Mohammad Goth, a village in the outskirts of Karachi, had been home to Gabol and his family for generations. “We’ve lived here before Pakistan existed… We got the papers [for our land] from the British when Pakistan was created. This is our land,” he said.

Gabol says that ever since a gated community called Bahria Town started development between the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad in 2013, indigenous lands have been forcibly seized.

Bahria Town Karachi is a privately owned suburb under construction located 45 kilometres outside Karachi on a busy highway that connects the city to the rest of the country. The neighbourhood is being built by the Bahria Town Group, one of Asia’s largest private property developers, with construction projects in cities across Pakistan.

Their Karachi project alone occupies under 46,000 acres (making it three times the size of Manhattan). Bahria Town promises a million members of the elite class access to private and secure supplies of water, gas and electricity. It even has its own golf course, the world’s third-largest mosque, an exclusive block for overseas residents and a private police force.

To make way for the skyscrapers, villages on the periphery of Karachi’s Bahria Town have been coerced into displacement over the past seven or eight years, says Hafeez Baloch, the leader of Sindh Indigenous Rights Alliance and a resident of Gadap Kator, a village adjacent to Bahria Town Karachi.

Although Baloch’s village is not occupied, he worries about the impact of large-scale development on the environment.

“There are mountains and rivers here, and there is an international park here, and Bahria Town is planning to put all their sewage there. If they are not stopped, the villages left will not be able to sustain themselves. This is a matter of life and death for us.”

On June 6, Baloch, with other indigenous rights activists and villagers, held a protest outside the neighbourhood. Activists who attended the protest told The New Arab that speeches by the organising committee members were going on when black smoke started rising from the main gate of Bahria Town. They deny association with vandalism.

Soon after, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, injuring children, women, and the elderly. Some vehicles, showrooms, and buildings inside Bahria Town were also set on fire.

As a result, the police have issued over 28 First Information Reports (FRIs) on terrorism charges and arrested hundreds of people, many of whom Baloch says were not even at the protests.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 1, 2021 at 9:32am

The absence of managing lands on the basis of environmental and social considerations has devastated the Karachi region. Over 2,800 goths [villages] along with their agricultural and pastoral lands have been swallowed up by developer-planned housing schemes. Their original owners have been made homeless and destitute. For example, the area of Bahria Town Karachi is larger than Manhattan. A land use change over such a large area is not a part of any official plan. Also, how was this huge land assembly achieved, considering the fact that it must have involved dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of original owners?

https://www.dawn.com/news/1606997

The story that emerges is one of coercion and murder, with support from officialdom, of those who opposed the surrendering of their properties. Those responsible for this have not been brought to justice in spite of overwhelming evidence against them. It is pertinent to mention here that, in 1985, 70 percent of Karachi’s vegetable and fruit requirements came from its rural areas. In 2013, this was reduced to 10 percent and Karachi lost a huge and undefined area of tree cover and green areas.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 1, 2021 at 9:40am

Bahria Town opens M9 interchange for public

It is the first privately-developed public infrastructure project

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2157624/bahria-town-opens-m9-interchange-public

Bahria Town Karachi opened its newly-built dedicated interchange on M9 Motorway for public on Saturday. The interchange is the country's first public infrastructure project to be constructed and fully funded by a private real estate developer.

The objective behind construction of the interchange was not only to facilitate the residents of Bahria Town but also to assist travelers at large.

The eight-kilometres-long project includes three underpasses, multiple slip roads, access roads, service roads, part of M9 that passes through the interchange, extension of an existing bridge, construction of a new bridge and a causeway.

The interchange also incorporates a modern drainage system, while it is decorated with trees, shrubs and plants alongside the network of roads, pavements and walkways.

Moreover, the interchange also complements the road network within Bahria Town, which also features the 18-lane Jinnah Avenue, inspired by Sheikh Zayed Road of Dubai.

Five years ago, Bahria Town had constructed a sophisticated set of underpasses and a flyover in Clifton in its efforts to upgrade the living standards of the people and ease of conveyance in Karachi. These efforts were also followed by the 'Clean Karachi Campaign' by Bahria Town Karachi, while striving to revive the beauty of the city.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 1, 2021 at 11:09am

The suburban neighbourhood of Bahria Town in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, is billed as a utopia.

At 46,000 acres, the city-within-a-city under construction is more than three times the size of Manhattan, to be complete with posh apartments, parks, a zoo, schools, restaurants and the world’s third-largest mosque. Its developer has hailed it as a model city, designed to house one million people when finished.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/wx5xam/arson-arrests-bahria-town-pa...


--------

“Bahria Town Karachi has provided what others can’t, not just to the rich but also low-income people in the form of jobs,” Bahria Town Karachi resident Sidra Najeeb told VICE World News.

The June 6 incident shook many like her. “It was like I, and my home, was being attacked,” she said. “Whatever the issue is [between the villagers and Bahria Town], it’s not right to destroy such beautiful property.”

----------------
But the elite community became a site of chaos and destruction earlier this month.

While indigenous rights groups and villagers were protesting outside the neighborhood, which they claim was built on land stolen from them, videos circulated on social media of masked men setting the entry gate on fire, then rushing in and torching cars and vandalising shops on June 6.

In the coming weeks, 156 people were arrested and charged at an anti-terrorism court.

But some say they are being falsely blamed for the violence. “I wasn’t even there during the protests,” Jansher Jokio, a 27-year-old laborer accused of terrorism, told VICE World News. “But I know why I was named. It’s because I’ve been resisting Bahria Town for three years.”

Jokio is one of the thousands of villagers who have been arrested or charged over the last eight years for protesting what they call illegal land grabbing.


Kazim Mahesar, a lawyer who has advocated for villagers like Jokio for five years, told VICE World News that the authorities are indiscriminately punishing indigenous villagers and activists. Among those arrested were children as young as 12, said Mahesar, who is part of a legal team challenging the arrests and charges at the local high court. The next hearings are scheduled for July 7.

-------------

After the recent violence, Riaz tweeted a statement maintaining that the Karachi development is legal and asked for “justice” against the “act of terrorism”.

“We did not illegally grab any land,” he said. “If anyone can prove illegal occupation of even an inch of land, we will be responsible. We have faced investigation before, and we will again.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 20, 2021 at 12:59pm

Project Attraction: A Master-Planned Community with World-Class Infrastructure and Facilities Exclusively For Overseas Pakistanis
Project Type: Master-planned gated community
Project Status: Booking has been closed.

https://www.alhussainproperties.com/bahria-town/bahria-town-karachi...

Project Availability:
Lakeview Block adjacent to a magnificent lake
Golf Course Block adjacent to USGA Standard Golf course
Residential plots: 250,500,1000 and 2000 Sq. Yards
Commercial plots: 125,200 and 250 Sq. yards
Bahria Homes: 125 and 200 Sq. yards
Bahria Apartments: 2,3 &4-bed

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https://youtu.be/WZNVB5H_FMY

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