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By Javed Mahmood
KARACHI – The recent violence in Karachi has boosted real estate values in Lahore, as scores of Karachi residents plan to migrate to other cities in the near future, real estate dealers told Central Asia Online.
Real estate prices have surged as much as 30% in Lahore, especially in the Defence areas, because of the sudden increase in demand for land and homes, Hidayat Ali, CEO of Fazaia Estate in Lahore, said.
“A bungalow having a value of Rs. 15m six months back is now being offered for sale for Rs. 20m,” Hidayat told Central Asia Online by phone.
There is a similar trend in the value of plots in Defence and Defence Housing Authority (DHA), prime locations in Lahore.
“We are negotiating with several buyers and sellers for the sale and purchase of plots and bungalows in Defence,” he said. A few months ago, the real estate business was moving slowly, but recent bloodshed in Karachi has changed the scenario as real estate agents are getting purchase orders from that city, he said.
People move first; businesses follow
At the first stage, the people having resources would move; later, they have plans to shift their business to Lahore, Hidayat said, adding that Lahore is Pakistan's second largest business hub, making it attractive to business owners.
Investment in real estate in Defence and DHA is considered the safest because law and order in these areas is far better than in other localities, Mushtaq Khan, a small builder in Defence said.
If Karachi violence continues, Lahore could emerge as the financial capital of Pakistan, Khan said.
An improved law-and-order situation in Lahore would make moving to Lahore attractive for those who are weary of lawlessness, he added.
“Prices and demand for property in Karachi have suddenly plummeted because of violence,” Khalid Mahmood, CEO of Hamza Estate in Khayaban-e-Shamshir Defence and a 25-year real estate veteran, told Central Asia Online.
Several people want to dispose of their residences, especially in the troubled areas of Karachi, but buyers are not available, he said. Plots and houses are for sale at throwaway prices, but no one is interested in buying under the prevailing circumstances.
Government must curtail killings to revive confidence
The government must carry out a ruthless and indiscriminate operation in Karachi to revive peace and the confidence of the people, businessmen and investors; otherwise, the trend of migration could be perilous, he added.
“Our family is considering shifting to Lahore because of the critical law-and-order situation in Karachi,” Saadia Saeed, a Pakistan International Airlines employee, told Central Asia Online.
Saadia lives in Model Colony, near the airport. The area is surrounded by localities dominated by different ethnic groups who often exchange fierce aerial firing, she said.
“Sometimes we feel as if we are living in tribal areas,” Saadia said. “If we got a reasonable price for our home, we will shift our family to Lahore.”
The government has worked to improve things, giving Rangers police powers, for example.
“The law and order have improved,” Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan said.
Rangers and police teams are getting information about the criminals and conducting raids at their hideouts, he said.
More than 500 miscreants involved in targeted killings, extortion, robberies and kidnappings have been rounded up during the past few days, Wassan said.
He said the government wouldn’t tolerate lawlessness in the city and stern action would be taken against the criminals.