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.

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.

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.

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 cafĂ© 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.

https://youtu.be/ZvKOCZuZAiM

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Gated Communities in Pakistan

Urban Middle Class Growth in Pakistan

Sohail Warraich on Rise of Pakistani Middle Class

Pakistan's Rising Middle Class

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

 DHA Karachi Green City

Emaar Crescent Bay Karachi

Pakistani Construction Boom


Comments

Habibullah K. said…
Malik Riaz has proved that he is a great businessman and a Great Builder !
Ali H. said…
In any other country, with decent environmental protection laws, this project would have been stopped right in its planning stage. [Have visited the site and have seen things first-hand
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan begins work on major housing project

https://www.khl.com/international-construction/pakistan-begins-work-on-major-housing-project/139243.article

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has laid the foundation of a project that will build 18,500 new housing units.

The project will focus on delivering affordable housing for the low-income sector as part of the Pakistani government’s long-term goal to construct five million houses across the country.

Khan said, “Out of 18,500 units to be built in Zone-IV of the federal capital, 10,000 will be specified for the low-income group, who will be able to own a house through easy banking loans.

“The government’s role will be confined to facilitation as well as provision of land to the private contractors, who will execute the project as the government does not have sufficient resources to fund such a huge project.”

The timeframe in which the 18,500 homes are expected to be delivered in is expected to be around a year and a half.

The demand for the new housing is predicted to be higher than the available units. Due to this, the government will allocate units through balloting.

Khan also said that the government would launch housing projects in other cities by engaging the private sector. “In Karachi, around 30 to 40% of people live in slums having neither any ownership rights nor the amenities like sewerage and others.”

In the province of Sindh, it has been reported that the government will offer around half of the slum land to the private sector. This land will be used for the construction of commercial areas and the building of more affordable housing for the slum dwellers.

Khan said that in Pakistan the poorer population struggles to afford their own houses primarily because banks do not provide mortgages to them. To tackle this problem, the government is in the process of drafting new laws to force banks to extend housing loans to the poorest demographic.
Riaz Haq said…
Book Review: The New Pakistani Middle Class by Ammara Maqsood

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2018/03/29/book-review-the-new-pakistani-middle-class-by-ammara-maqsood/

The book unveils multiple facets of the country’s middle class, its trajectory since Pakistan’s creation and its understanding of and experience with the concept of a modern progressive nation and religion. Hina Shaikh reviews Dr Ammara Maqsood‘s ethnographic debut.

Pakistan has a rising middle class, now a critical segment of the country’s population, exhibiting great variation in its political, social and even economic positioning. There is, however, lack of sound socio-scientific research and literature on the evolution of this segment of the population. There are, of course, certain generalisations such as the middle class is mostly urban and a big consumer group belonging to a certain income threshold. However, the middle class is mostly dealt with in the economic or political context i.e. how this growing segment of the population impacts the economic or political landscape.

Dr Ammara Maqsood’s ethnographic debut The Pakistan’s New Middle Class unveils multiple facets of the country’s middle class, its trajectory since Pakistan’s creation and its understanding of and experience with the concept of a modern progressive nation. Her work focuses on how Pakistan’s rising urban middle class engage with religion (Islam) and its image as a progressive nation.

While providing a fresh way of understanding the middle class, the book examines the Muslim middle class in the postcolonial South Asian context and traces the evolution of this class from the late 18th century India. While the ethnography is specific to Lahore, Dr Maqsood discloses several emerging trends common across South Asia. For example, her comparison of the shift towards personal piety amongst Pakistan’s new middle class to reformism in Kerala, where middle class Muslims associate religious reformism with a modern outlook through promotion of education. Dr Maqsood feels such trends should be understood as a global impulse to cleanse rather than conform to a certain school of thought. Hence, there is a persistent shift in the new middle class to certain kinds of practices, across various sects of Islam – Deobandi, Wahabi and Barelvi — lacking a clear direction but up for constant negotiation.

The account is highly contextualised and relevant (especially to a those in the Indian sub-continent) to the current narrative around the search for a collective Muslim identity in modern progressive times. Though set in Lahore, her findings are frequently extended, and convincingly so, to the rest of urban Pakistan. The author also consistently provides references to relevant experiences from several other parts of the Muslim world. For example, Dr Maqsood gives examples from West Asia, Iran and India, about growth in Islamic consumerism — especially during Ramzan — and the increasing popularity of religious study circles. The book can thus appeal to most readers trying to understand how the Muslim middle class belonging to any part of the globe struggles to situate itself in today’s world.

The author’s central inquiry is around the question of how the country’s new middle class perceives itself both as a Pakistani and as a member of the larger global community. In that process, Dr Maqsood closely studies the connection and contrast between the old (established) and the new (upwardly mobile) middle class. While both groups are similar in their yearning for modernity and a progressive Pakistan, they differ in the perception the same. This contrast is an important contribution of this book as it provides a diligent understanding of the evolution of post-colonial Muslim societies, addressing the issue of class within the urban milieu.
Riaz Haq said…
The U.S. Does Poorly On Yet Another Metric of Economic Mobility
Aparna Mathur
Aparna Mathur Contributor


https://www.forbes.com/sites/aparnamathur/2018/07/16/the-u-s-does-poorly-on-yet-another-metric-of-economic-mobility/#2894c3016a7b

The concept of economic mobility is relatively simple to grasp. Over the course of a lifetime, can people move up the rungs of the income ladder? Are children doing better than their parents when it comes to standards of living? How do we help people access opportunities that we know can make the climb easier? The questions come easily to us, but the solutions, not as much. The challenge is even tougher when we are talking not of one city, state or country, but for multiple countries around the globe. To be precise, a new tracks 148 countries, with 96 percent of the world’s population, to answer the age-old question of how much economic opportunity and upward economic mobility a country really offers its citizens. This is a tremendous effort. To put it in context, we are still absorbing the results of the first comprehensive study on U.S. economic mobility that was released in 2017. Now, we can compare not only how the U.S. fares on mobility, but how developing countries in Asia and Africa are doing relative to the U.S.. The results are striking.

Rather than using the more traditional metric of income, this study uses educational attainment as the basis for defining upward mobility. Absolute upward mobility refers to the ability of children to “out-learn” (my term) their parents. For example, if the parents only completed secondary school, but the children completed tertiary schooling, that would reflect absolute upward mobility. Relative mobility refers to the ability of children to do better than their peers compared to how the parents did relative to their own peers. In other words, if the parents were in the bottom quartile of educational attainment within their cohort, but the children were in the middle or upper quartile, that would reflect relative upward mobility.
---------------
The map of global economic mobility shows pockets of hope and pockets of concern. Thirteen of the fifteen least mobile countries globally are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while some of the most mobile economies are in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. But the divisions are not clear cut. The threat to economic mobility exists even in developed, high-income countries such as the United States. The U.S. is one of only four high income economies amongst 50 economies with the lowest rates of relative upward mobility. While the problems in each country are unique, many solutions are universal. The report highlights much needed investments in early childhood through subsidized childcare and paid leave, nutrition programs, good quality public education programs and schools, improved occupational networks and labor market interventions such as employer tax credits to employ younger workers. But it also points to a new, and often overlooked, factor: the role played by aspirations, both of the parents and the children themselves, and the link between aspirations and mobility. In Mexico, for instance, among youth between the ages of 12-22, those who had higher aspirations for mobility were far more likely to stay in school and exhibit better behavior more generally, particularly in relation to health. Similar findings were reported in a diverse group of countries, such as India, Vietnam, United Kingdom, Pakistan and in the Dominican Republic as well. Perhaps not surprisingly, believing in the dream of upward mobility is critical to achieving it.

Policymakers have a simple mandate to making progress on this issue. Take real, practical actions to make that dream come true for people worldwide.

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/28428

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