Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently vowed to encourage vertical expansion of Pakistani cities paving way for the growth of high-rise buildings across the country. As per media reports, he presaged not to let cities grow horizontally with a view to protecting country’s food security, green areas and environment. This kind of policy approach requires a well-informed holistic analysis as to how the urban spaces need to be optimally utilized keeping in view the growth, size, economy and resources of cities and their intertwined relationship with positive and negative externalities. Furthermore, it is pivotal to make an evidence-based evaluation how vertical urban development will promote economic growth and urban prosperity by transforming the cities into engines of economic growth. There should not be any qualms to observe that a well-planned urban planning directly helps in broadening the tax base of a city alongside strengthening the overall economy. In this regard, three main determinants can be highlighted: space sharing attitude, the concept of landholding and the popularity of flat culture.The very concept of space sharing is still alien in most parts of Pakistan. The entire urban culture across the country has witnessed elitist evolution of the quibbling processes unable to transform its cities into engines of economic growth. These processes are a product of the life style of dyspeptic high class that does not like sharing space with the middle and lower classes. The middle and lower classes are struggling hard to attain a similar recalcitrant life style and private spatial seclusion based on the typical elitist mindset. This is a kind of urban economic cycle that treats private space as a status symbol rather than an urban dwelling. In this environment, the grandeur of private landholding and urbane living has no match with flat dwelling and space sharing culture. The tenet of landholding in Pakistan is primarily a product of the ruthless use of land as an operand resource whetting horizontal development. The bilking processes evolved are self-centered, selfish and anti-operant as they focus on ensuring private living, social grandeur and elitist seclusion having very less to do with the urban economyIn their 2018 article, “Territory, firms and value co-creation synergies”, Baccarani et al. treat territory as both operand and operant resource. The term operand refers to a resource on which some action can be performed. On the contrary, operant resources can perform an action on other resources. In this perspective, the elitist evolution of space sharing culture in Pakistan has primarily been operand treating land as a resource where the powerful social strata encouraged horizontal urban development. Treating urban development as an operant phenomenon, therefore, is none of their business. As a result, Pakistani cities are witnessing continuing horizontal expansion unable to create economic synergies capable of increasing government taxes by strengthening the economy.The tenet of landholding in Pakistan is primarily a product of the ruthless use of land as an operand resource whetting horizontal development. The bilking processes evolved are self-centered, selfish and anti-operant as they focus on ensuring private living, social grandeur and elitist seclusion having very less to do with the urban economy. That means the evolution of such bizarre urban culture does not like the government’s authority forcing them to fulfill their legal obligations such as the payment of due taxes. Another important dimension is that immovable property is one of the safest parking for hiding assets from the government revenue departments. Most tax collection agencies keep focusing on monetary transactions and financial activities of the taxpayers while the actual wealth, in terms of landholdings, does not properly get into the tax net. As a result, the urban economic synergies are discouraged. The operand behavior of big housing societies’ coterie, such as the DHA and Bahria Town, is inherently encouraging sprawl and horizontal development of cities. The social discourse on which the concept of landholding has evolved, and is still evolving, is the elitist mindset of the powerful strata that abhors sharing space with others. This is the root cause of the mushroom growth of housing societies all over Pakistan. This suggests that this stratum will not allow the operant use of land such as the vertical urban development. It is because vertical development of cities will drastically reduce the demand for land and their operand usage on diurnal basis by inculcating a deeper space-sharing sense into the minds of citizens. If the trend becomes popular among the urban masses, vertical expansion will exponentially reduce the profits of big property tycoons alongside ensuring operant application of land. Promoting flat culture is, similarly, the third hallmark that encourages vertical development of cities as most high-rise buildings are primarily meant for flat dwelling. This dimension is also dependent on the evolution of processes through which urban essence and traits emerge over time. The concept of landholding, as a symbol of private living and operand use of land, is very popular among the powerful strata of society such as politicians, businessmen and bureaucracy. As a result, the discourse in favor of landholding inherently discourages vertical development in most parts of Pakistan. This suggests that the past processes used to encourage the operand use of land need to be reversed before expecting an exponential popularity of flat culture across Pakistan.Multiple urban stakeholders, such as residents, firms, taxpayers and tourists must be engaged in a reverse manner with a view to ensuring the operant use of urban territories. Unless, the powerful strata of the society themselves come forward and give up their huge landholdings, it would be hard to create an urban discourse in favor of flats. Even if done through strict subpoenas, it will widen the gulf of inequality alongside further deepening the sense of deprivation among the haves and have-nots. A better panacea is that the powerful class, such as the politicians, businessmen, and military and civil bureaucracy leave their ersatz life style, and start sharing urban space by living in flats. These kinds of practical actions will have the potential to create a counter-discourse in favor of flat dwelling and vertical expansion of cities. Economic synergies, tax discipline and ebullient agglomeration in urban economies are the byproducts of such urban interventions. The writer is Additional Commissioner, FBR, holding PhD in Economic Planning from Massey University, New ZealandPublished in Daily Times, March 18th 2019.