Islamabad, over the past decades, has witnessed one of the rapid urban growths in Pakistan.
However, very little has been done by the concerned agencies to respond to the challenges being
posed by the immigrant population. Acute housing shortage is resulting into the growth of
numerous informal settlements in the capital territory. It is alarming to note that more than 25%
area of Islamabad has already turned into slums/katchi abadis and a major chunk of remaining
ICT area is under the threat of converting into slums/katchi abadis due to factors such as
widening gap between the demand and supply of affordable housing, non conducive rules and
regulations of different regulatory bodies, institutional incapacity, non enabling working
environment for the private developers (PD)/Cooperative Housing Societies (CHS), and non-understanding of real development challenges.
Current population of Islamabad is more than 2.0 Million and it will touch the figure of more than
4.0 million people by 2030. Housing backlog stands at about 100,000 units with an additional
requirement of 25,000 units per year. However, the supply is hardly 2,000-3,000 housing units
and that too is primarily being provided by PD/CHS. It was the foremost job of CDA to provide
affordable housing to different sections of society but CDA had been unable to launch any new
residential sector during the last two decades and the ones that launched had not been developed
since 1989. It is believed by the development professionals that this is the last chance to save and
develop Islamabad as a planned city otherwise 80% of ICT area will be converted into slums in
next 10-12 years. Therefore, all efforts supporting the planned development should be
This report is based upon a comprehensive study of the ground realities in the development
context of Islamabad. The report not only identifies/diagnoses the real development challenges of
Islamabad but also suggests Way Forward for the effective solution of identified problems/issues/challenges. Summary of the proposed measures for ensuring planned
development in Islamabad is presented in the following paragraphs.
The report notes that Revision to Islamabad Master Plan should have been made after every 20
years but, unfortunately, it has never been done since 1960. It is high time for CDA to
revisit/amend Master Plan of Islamabad in the context of ground realities and the overall
objectives which have been envisaged to be achieved for a vibrant and sustainable Islamabad.
Similarly, CDA’s prevailing Bye-Laws and Modalities for Development of Private Housing
Schemes do not commensurate with current development challenges. There must be responsive
rules, regulations, and planning parameters to deal with every inch of land falling in ICT.
We cannot match the development level of planned cities under prevailing planning parameters of
CDA. These rigid and outdated planning parameters and Bye-Laws will have to be revised
accordingly if we really want to create a thriving, safe, and resilient city. We would need an additional area equivalent to existing size of Islamabad by 2030 to accommodate the demand of expected population if we keep on going horizontally. Expanding horizontally in the Capital is just not feasible in view of high price of land, rising population, rising demand of housing, and environmental degradation. We must promote planned vertical development for provision of affordable housing to the masses and sustainable development.
Local taxes/fees/charges being collected by Municipal Bodies should be utilized for the maintenance of whole ICT/ particularly on areas from where it is being collected. Presently, all municipal services such as water supply, sewerage, waste collection, drainage, security, parks etc. in Private/Cooperative Housing Schemes are being provided by the concerned Sponsors of the scheme without any support from the concerned Municipal departments. Therefore, in case of collection of taxes/fees/charges from these areas in future; Government must devise such mechanism that could ensure the sharing of these fees with the concerned Private Developers/CHS to provide municipal services more effectively.
More importantly, Land management system in ICT is based upon Kishtwar and Ishtimal
(Consolidation) has not been carried out since 1956. Resultantly, it is very difficult for PD/CHS
to manage the required compact piece of land for launching housing schemes. Sponsors of the
schemes with 75-80% clear ownership should, therefore, be allowed to submit their LOP in CDA
and remaining 20-25% disputed/ un-acquired area on the LOP may be referred by CDA in
coordination with sponsors for compulsory acquisition on the cost of sponsors. Otherwise slums,
katchi abadis, and sub-standard land-sub division will keep on adding to the built up area of
Scarcity of water in ICT is the foremost challenge for future development in Islamabad. Provision
of clean drinking water to the residents of private housing schemes located in Zone-II, IV, and V
of ICT is a great challenge for the sponsors of the schemes in view of pathetic state of ground
water. Development of surface water source is so expensive that it cannot be afforded by the
PD/CHS. This is something which can only be managed at state level. CDA should, therefore,
come forward and take the responsibility to supply water to the residents of private housing
schemes and charge them accordingly.
Likewise, CDA should extend its services of solid waste management in Zone-II, IV, and V as well to ensure the scientific disposal at designated sites. Building Plans in the Private/ CHS had been approving by the Sponsors of the Schemes since 1992. Now, the plans are supposed to be sanctioned by CDA. Interestingly, when management of the Society will be responsible for each and every matter pertaining to a building plan approved by CDA, then why not the function of plan approval should rest with the PD/CHS? CDA in coordination with Sponsors of the schemes may depute a specialized team for periodical monitoring of the building control activities of the schemes and make necessary instructions to bring it in conformity with CDA Building Bye-Laws in case of any violation.
This will not only ensure the enforcement of building bye-laws of CDA but will also make the things easy for the residents who won’t have to face the lengthy process of CDA for building plans approval.
The report finds that Private Developers and CHS are the main contributors to meet the growing
demand of affordable housing in Islamabad. PD/CHS are not only sharing the state’s
responsibility of providing shelters to the shelter less at affordable cost but also generating
numerous job opportunities and bringing foreign direct investment in the country together with
saving lot of area from converting into slums. Keeping in view the excellent performance
delivered by the PD/ CHS in housing industry despite all the discouraging factors and absence of
enabling environment; all regulatory bodies should create a comfortable and encouraging
regulatory framework for the PD/ CHS to flourish instead of pushing them to wind up their
It is believed that all issues can be resolved if concerned decision makers draw such future
development policies for capital which are more realistic and action oriented, incorporate
participatory and environment sensitive development approaches, and evolve a vibrant public private cooperation mechanism in the CDA and other concerned public institutions.