ISLAMABAD: There is a shortage of around 58,000 residential units in Islamabad and the government is unable to address the problem, copies of official documents obtained by The Express Tribune have confirmed.
Copies have also been obtained of documents citing the number of families involved in litigation for residential suites for many years with multiple allotments being done deliberately by officials of the Estate Office of Pakistan and the housing ministry. In many instances, three to four families are contesting a legal battle for a single residential unit with all of them having allotment letters in their hands, in turn accusing the housing ministry of mismanagement and corruption.
The housing ministry trust deficit has put an extra burden on the court as hundreds of similar cases remain pending in the lower courts. The documents obtained show that former joint secretary of the ministry of culture Sultan Khan, is still occupying House 22, Category ii, in sector G-8/2, a government residence, despite the fact that this house has been allotted to someone else.
He was posted to the interior ministry on May 6, 2009. The estate office had not allow him to use a government residence and cancelled his accommodation order on Wednesday May 12, 2010. The housing ministry allotted the same residence to Assistant Director Intelligence Bureau, Khizar Hayat Nagra on 6th May 2009.
Nagra filed the case against the illegal occupation of Sultan Khan and won the case. Meanwhile, Zafar Iqbal, an officer of the housing ministry, allotted the same suite to Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Farasat Ali Khan last month. Similarly, the housing ministry allotted a family suite no 12-B/72 to Ijaz Ali Chishti, a superintendent of the Supreme Court (SC) in Gulshan-e-Jinnah last year. The allotted suite is still in occupation of Additional District and Session Judge Attock, Raja Qamar Sultan, appointed in Islamabad during Musharraf’s government.
Despite the fact that the law ministry sent back all those employees to their respective departments, who moved to Islamabad on deputation, the housing ministry issued a stay order for the suite on the request of Qamar, considered to be a close friend of the secretary housing. The court however, gave the verdict in Chishti’s favour, saying that the accommodation is only for federal government employees. Advocate Muhammad Aslam, said that hundreds of people are contesting their cases regarding accommodation in the district courts.
“They (cases) make up 50 per cent of the overall backlog of the district court. Dozens of government employees with complaints visit the court and this number is increasing every day,” Aslam explained. Muhammad Shakeel, a government employee is still awaiting the allotment of a family suite has appealed to the court alleging that housing ministry officials took Rs200,000 from him to provide him with a house. “I have neither had my money returned nor had any accommodation arranged for me and my family since 2008,” Shakeel told The Express Tribune.
Secretary Housing and Works, Lt (Retd) Muhammad Abbas confirmed that there is confusion in the management matters of the estate office. “Officials were allotted residential suites without paying attention towards the status of the claimed suites. 23,000 applications for accommodation are yet to be entertained while no residential unit has been built since 1995 in Islamabad
Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.