January 13, 2022

Illegal House Societies in Pakistan and How to Identify Them?

A recent investigation opens up a Pandora’s box of problems with housing societies in Pakistan. Housing without proper authorization is illegal and unethical. Private housing societies have been a controversy for some time now. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) estimates about 140 illegal housing associations in Islamabad, only 64 of which received a NOC from CDA. It wants us to believe that no new suburb has arisen in our capital city in the last 20 years. We studied this list of 64 “authorized” societies and found that only 22 have such a NOC. It puts legal societies at 10 percent of the total; however, out of those few legally registered ones, they are not immune to the government’s rules.

The government tried to motivate private developers to make houses available in several zones of Islamabad. Several complex rules are applied when it comes to building private housing communities. The average time needed for registering a society is approximately three years, sometimes taking up to five years. The number of steps and long waiting times easily cause delays – which pushes people away from applying for permissions in the first place!

As housing demand in Islamabad rises, residents get priced out of their homes. So the government invites private sector companies to build homes for low- and middle-income residents in Zone-2,4, and 5. A new set of laws governs the development of private communities in Zone 2, 4, 5. To startup, a property community takes between 19 and 20 steps or more than double that amount if every additional step is included. The average time it takes CDA to approve is 315 days. Once CDA approves your community expansion plan, there’s no guarantee they won’t come back and say they want you to do something different at any stage in your development campaign. Because of this, repeated changes accepted by operators lead to an increase in the completion time of each project which is calculated roughly between twenty years or even more.

A report by the Auditor General (A.G) of Pakistan revealed that several irregularities and violations had been found in the department of Housing Societies in CDA from 2011 to 2016. The department granted housing approvals without proof of land ownership, based on fake documents or for areas outside ICT. A lack of an internal audit system also means that it could not identify financial irregularities within the department. In contrast, a weak checks and balances system failed to fix responsibility for losses to the public. The Housing Directorate of CDA isn’t equipped to detect or rule against areas where illegal construction occurs. They also don’t receive the power to demolish illegal constructions in their jurisdiction.

According to the chief justice of Islamabad High Court, the land regulatory authorities have not been “performing their statutory obligation with regards to ensuring that no action is taken in contravention of any provisions of law.” The fact that the Capital Development Authority has not controlled 90% of land in Islamabad signals the deficiencies which accrue simply because the “authorities [are] non-observant of their legal obligation and duties.” For instance, as per Section 489 of the Real Estate Act, such residential societies must be registered under CDA; however, Islamabad alone has more than 2,000 housing societies, excluding its rural belt. In short, it’s fair to say that corruption ruins the integrity of Pakistan’s development; moreover, for starters at least (pun intended), we can appreciate why homeowners end up investing so much in the project, which ultimately ends up falling into disrepair after sitting on it for a couple of years.

In the interests of the general public and other stakeholders, it is informed that CDA Ordinance, 1960 and the ICT (Zoning) Regulations, 1992 empower CDA to regulate planning and development of housing/farm housing schemes. Approvals are granted in two steps to housing/farm housing schemes. First, layout plans (LOPs) are approved by CDA, and once subsequent formalities have been completed for final approval, no-objection certificates (NOCs) for the development of schemes will be issued.

Islamabad Capital Territory has been split up into five different zones according to the ICT (Zoning) Regulations, 1992. As per the map of zone delineation Islamabad Capital Territory, Zone-1 spans from Sector 1 to the existing alignment of G.T. Road to Qadri Monument, including Sectors D14, D15, D16, and E14, E15 together with H13, H14, and H15 which lies partially within this zone.

As per provisions of Clause-4 (1)(A) of ICT (Zoning) Regulation, 1992, the development of land in Un-acquired Sectoral areas of Zone-1 shall be subject to the following conditions:

The land shall be acquired under a program and developed according to the land use scheme laid out in the master plan. No property sales can be generated from the proceeds of this project. Neither may any homes be built nor can any private business venture occur in the area.

In this zone, the following societies are illegal as per NOC:

  • Abdullah Town, H-17
  • Chinnar Town, H-17
  • Ammar Town, H-17
  • Jhangio Sayedain Homes, H-15
  • Gulshan-e-Taleem, H-15
  • Peral Orchard, H-17
  • Sher Zaman Garden, H-17
  • Qamar Garden, H-15
  • Tayyab Garden H-15
  • Talha Farms, H-17
  • Shifa International Housing Society, H-17
  • Zammar Valley, H-17
  • Capital Hills Residencia, D-14
  • Awan Town, D-14
  • Ahmad Town, D-14
  • Green Valley Phase-II, E-15
  • Paradise Valley, D-14
  • Margalla View Valley, D-14
  • Green Valley, D-14
  • Shehzad Town, E-15

Over the years, the housing industry in Islamabad has been fraught with legal violations. Bought-up land is being sold to investors without the correct permissions, and there is a worrying trend where many people are unaware that they are investing in properties that are not CDA approved. It makes them extremely vulnerable because their investments become difficult to sell, thus reducing the overall profits that can be gained when trying to get out of a property if matters go south. That’s why it’s important money here on out to take all threats seriously and only rely on trustworthy companies like Makeen Marketing, who will make sure you’re making a sound investment by providing assistance in areas legalities as well! Bahria Town, Gulberg Housing Society, and DHA are considered a safe investments.

Housing schemes, namely Muhafiz Gardens, Rawat Enclave, Faisal Town, and Air Line Avenue, are being marketed as located in Islamabad. The CDA confirms that these housing mentioned above schemes do not fall within Islamabad’s jurisdiction and that no relevant NOC or approval has been issued.

Illegal advertising of housing schemes in the country is not allowed. Advertisers are legally prohibited from misleading advertisements of illegal housing schemes. Due to this, we plead that you do not advertise any illegal housing scheme. We’d also like to ask you not to develop such schemes too. The display of unauthorized advertisements for housing projects is forbidden. The advertising companies are prohibited from misleading advertising, which potentially misleads the public into believing that any given project is developed and supported by the government. The sponsors of these illegal housing schemes have been told not to mislead the public through their advertisements, and they must also do as they are told by law when it pertains to working within their legal limitations.

Ghouri Town has been called a ghost town since the CDA declared it illegal. At the same time, the media says that there are nearly 150,000 homes in this area. However, those who go there during the day will notice that it’s abandoned, even more so at night. It may come as a surprise due to its very high population, yet if you look at the layout of Ghouri Town, you can see why CDA would never approve of it. Phase 4 and 5 of Ghouri town were declared illegal because they did not have any recreational areas like parks or playgrounds, education facilities for children, places of worship, and hospitals and cemeteries (or even amenities for animals). The Police Foundation makes our list of illegal housing societies in Islamabad since its Notice of Completion and layout plan was canceled by the CDA after the Society was caught selling more plots than it had landed. It was done in 2011 when the NAB also began their investigation into the illegal sale of these plots in the Police Foundations. It resulted from many Islamabadis claiming the Society had been selling their lands illegally. Nadeem Qadir took his problems to court after the Society refused to give him a NOC despite buying a plot and wanting to construct it with approval from local authorities in January 2013. The CDA cancels all building plans for illegal housing societies following Mr. Qadir’s case – making it impossible for any resident or officer who purchased land through the foundation’s management to reside there legally. The National Accountability Bureau also began their investigation into this corruption shortly after and is still analyzing any evidence they may have acquired during their preliminary findings.


CDA has a lot of power to regulate development in housing societies. The scrutiny of the layout plan (LOP), issuance of no-objection certificates, and regular inspection of the quality of work, among many other requirements, give them the authority to oversee any housing society. If a sponsor cannot complete construction on time, CDA can even take possession of the Society and put it up for sale to another sponsor who is ready to move forward with construction.

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