After what happened to me in Eden scam, won’t my hands tremble while voting for Shehbaz?
In 2009, Eden group announced a new scheme for lower income people. They announced different schemes with different names and supposedly at different locations with affordable payment options during the span of one year. Most of those schemes were supposed to be expanded over a period of 5 years where Eden was supposed to develop the land in those five years and then hand over the property to those who invested.
How Ring Road initially became the excuse for not delivering our projects
We invested in Eden property in 2009. We paid regular instalments. Soon there was a noise that Eden project has got affected and will not be able to deliver plots as government of Punjab had acquired some of its land for the Ring Road project. There was no clear communication by Eden except a few rumors here and there. Then after some time we were told by Eden that the issue had been resolved. Punjab government had paid the money to Eden for the land it purchased for Ring Road and that Eden had paid back money to those investors whose plots got affected by the project, and that the remaining investors would get their property. Five years had already passed until that moment. And it was time to deliver the property to its rightful owners. But Eden requested more time quoting the Ring Road issue.
Protests didn’t work. Paying even double the amount agreed initially only got us papers that aren’t recognized by govt
After some time there was noise again that Eden had committed a fraud and wasn’t handing over property to its owners who had paid all instalments, development charges etc. Again there was no proper communication by Eden as to what was going on. At this point of time people who had invested in Eden adopted different strategies according to their level of inside information, social status and links with different power groups like media etc. They arranged press conferences and protests against Eden on the roads, in front of their offices etc. Then affected groups sprung up. Those groups used pressure tactics to either get the ownership of their property or get back their money. Then a further set of frauds started by Eden with the help of those groups and allegedly together with the help of different government bodies like LDA and NAB. As per the new fraud people were told that property prices had increased too much and it was not possible to handover the property at the promised price, and that if they wanted their property they needed to pay more money. It was double of what they had already paid. Those who could or those who bought this new propaganda paid more money and got ownership of their houses or lands. But it is told that LDA and other respective government organizations failed to recognize many of those properties as they accused Eden of not completing requisites before handing over those ownerships. Many of those who had paid three times the actual money agreed on in 2009 still have nothing in their hands except a piece of paper whom no government body is ready to recognize.
How Eden kept us in the dark
People like me who had no information as to what was going on and were not part of any pressure group were still hopeful that Eden will fulfill its promise as Eden was an old business and had successfully delivered many real property projects before. Then we received some communication from Eden that they are very much committed to fulfill their promises and have not run away from Pakistan, no matter what the rumors claimed. They asked us to remain patient.
All this while, whenever we called Eden, their representatives told that after few months our projects would be handed over to their rightful owners. But those few months never completed.
It’s been ten years and the culprits have fled the country
Time went on and now ten years have passed since we invested in this project. Eden came out a fraud. Owners have run away from country. NAB says they requested interior ministry to put their names on ECL two months before the owners of Eden fled the country. People are knocking on doors. We have complained to chief justice of Pakistan, we have complained to NAB. Nobody has provided the relief yet.
We want our property. And if property is not available we want our money back taking into consideration the inflation, rupee devaluation and current price of the property.
They looted the most vulnerable group of the society: the lower middle class
Mostly people from lower middle class of the society had invested in this project. People literally sold their valuables like jewelry and other valuables to pay the instalments and development charges. Parents and grandparents of many of us have died for whom we wanted to have shelter where they could spend their last days of life. Our children have grown up for whom we dreamed to have their own homes where they could feel proud and live happily. We sacrificed our youth to provide relief for our next generation but Eden has deprived us and our children of a respectable life. I personally know one widow whose husband invested in Eden, later passed away due to cancer. Now this widow is hand to mouth and with no shelter for her and her children, living in a rented house, surviving on the money being donated to her by her well-wishers. There could potentially be many cases like that.
If Chief Justice can’t do it for us, govt can’t, media is silent, it means the whole state is failing us, the citizens
Eden fraud is a question mark on the value of life in Pakistan. It is a question mark on the justice system of Pakistan. It is a question mark on the capabilities of the organizations responsible for rules and regulations of property business in Pakistan. It is a question mark on the good governance of Shehbaz Sharif. How can we call it good governance when a land fraud happened worth billions of rupees right under your nose in the heart of Lahore and affected thousands of Punjabis and Pakistanis and you did not do anything? Will my hands and those of that widow whose husband had poster of your picture installed on his motorcycle during 2013 general elections not tremble while stamping on Tiger in 2018 general elections?
What is the future of Pakistan if it keeps on failing its own citizens like this?
The author is an expat Pakistani.