As Pakistan continues along its developmental journey, we see in cities such as Lahore a rise in the number of approved and illegal housing societies. These societies lure people into large scheme scams, through promises of a luxurious life at an affordable cost. Moreover when the affected people approach the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NAB), the process in itself is quite questionable. This is because NAB is solely concerned with getting back their payments only, instead of the larger picture, which is to stop the amount of profit made by these scam artists.
One of the victims of these con schemes told me that, victims such as himself are being told by the NAB officials that only recovering their initial payment is possible. However since these cases can takes years, a case registered in 2006 will still receive back the same amount ten years later, without any adjustments to inflation, rising costs etc. Whereas the assets and accounts of these fake society developers increase in value at an astounding speed.
The general rule for investments or savings is the interest received and a gradual increase in the value of assets. For example when I purchased my house in 2005, it as for nine lacs, however its value this year is fifteen lacs. Although we see ‘big names’ on the NAB watch list, these powerful people are still managing to escape the justice system; due to corrupt officials.
The common man however has a completely different level of access to justice, information and system. Poor people are usually met with deception and bribery upon their encounters with the police or officials. Frustrated and psychologically disturbed, those trapped in housing scams, step back and stay quite on the matter entirely.
Although we see ‘big names’ on the NAB watch list, these powerful people are still managing to escape the justice system
In a case that one of my friends fought, I have personally seen how police officials after meeting the culprits, changed their stance and asked my friend to file a civil suit instead of launching an FIR against fraud as a criminal offence.
It is the weak and bribery prone stance of the police system which forces the poor to give up on their investments, as the police refuses to take any action, claiming that such fraud is a matter civil in nature. NAB officials on the other hand have an elitist and bureaucratic approach to the poor and illiterate victims. Many a times- these complainants of humble means are subject to rude, condescending attitudes. Police investigation system is so pathetic that the poor people surrender their
Hence it is clear from the functioning of both the police and bureaucracy that such giant culprits escaping, is a highly contestable topic. Furthermore when these victims resort to the judiciary- firstly due to their meager resources they are barely able to afford the high litigation and legal costs. In some cases, witnesses, lawyers and complainants are often threatened or killed by these land mafias, due to their overwhelming reach and power.
There are many cases in which affected people trying to highlight their matter were met with an unfortunate accident, which was planned by the society developer scammers or culprits. Because of the looted money from affected people society scammers have the power to invest in such silence.
We can see why the people who are affected are silent. Many of the cases which are in the litigation process are still in the process of hearing, appeals and in pending status due to the manipulation factors presented by the scammer society developers. Poor people are having no status and stance in their litigation because of their poor financial conditions and are always deceived at different levels in our society. Question is how we can say that we are living in the welfare state, when such a blatant usurpation of property and wealth occurs?
The writer can be contacted at Auk022@gmail.com
Published in Daily Times, August 11th 2018.