islamabad - The individuals who had invested in One-Constitution Avenue project in the capital city — majority of them overseas Pakistanis — have lamented government’s attitude towards them, saying they are fearing loss of their whole life’s savings.

They also rejected the notion as they said is being propagated that majority of the purchasers of the apartments in the towers are tax evading persons. They said that both the builder and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) are to be blamed for not being transparent in the affairs and leaving the investors in the lurch.

Ahsan Azeem, a Pakistani national staying in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and holder of a 3-bedroom apartment in Tower-C sees no justified reason to cancel the lease of the land allotted to construct hotel and residency block. Talking to The Nation on phone from Saudi Arabia, he said that dual nationality holder Pakistanis invested in the project so as to secure their future but the CDA suddenly took a decision which not only shattered the confidence of the overseas Pakistanis in investing in their homeland but also cast a negative impact on the overall investment.

He said that he paid an amount of over Rs50 million over a period of six years just to listen that he has no property over there in Islamabad.

He lamented that an impression is being given that majority of the purchasers of the apartments are tax evaders and black money holders and added if so, why the genuine buyers are being victimised.

Nida Ashraf while talking to The Nation on phone said that her mother Shabnam Ashraf had purchased a 3-bedroom apartment but now she has nothing in hand in terms of property. She questioned why the government cancelled the lease of the land when the project was almost complete and the apartments were handed over to the purchasers. Hoping for justice, she said that the affectees have now pooled in money to engage lawyers to fight a case in the court against the CDA.

Maleeha Hamid Hussain from Islamabad said that they had never imagined that the mega project could possibly be illegal. She owned an apartment in the building which is in full view of the Presidency, Prime Minister Secretariat and Supreme Court. A development consultant by profession, Hussain wondered why the government thinks that the purchasers lost nothing after it cancelled the lease of the land and abolished the project. “We have lost savings of the whole life,” she lamented.

In July 2016, CDA had cancelled the lease of the project following ‘violation of the agreement with CDA.’ Later, Islamabad High Court in March 2017 dismissed all petitions and upheld the CDA decision to cancel the lease of the project.

Among the 240 buyers, some 79 are overseas Pakistanis. Remaining are professionals, widowers, retirees, and businessmen. These individuals had purchased these apartments in good faith assuming that a project of this size and stature, being built right in view of the highest government offices would have the government approval.

Moreover, during the launch phase and thereafter, the project was extensively advertised in all major newspapers. Many of the purchasers who reached out to CDA before making the purchase were given a green signal.

Around 240 purchasers had completed 100 per cent of their instalment payments to the builder when the project was declared illegal.

Mrs Naeem Chaudhary, one of the purchasers, while talking to The Nation said that her husband Dr Naeem Chaudhary had purchased an apartment and paid the full amount to the builder. She said that her husband used to live in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She was worried that the government’s action has shattered the confidence of overseas Pakistanis when it comes to investment. “The CDA decision has also cast a negative impact on the next generation which would find no reason to compel their parents to settle in Pakistan,” she said worriedly. She said that OPF also did nothing to mitigate the miseries of the overseas Pakistanis.

Lubna Bhayat, a Pakistani national residing in UAE told The Nation that she did not know how to react to the government’s decision to cancel the lease. She said that she had sold few plots before purchasing the property. “I also visited CDA before making the investment and one of the directors gave me a green signal,” she told The Nation. Rejecting the propaganda that black money was used to buy property by the majority of the purchasers, she said that she had declared the property in tax returns. “Now FBR has sent us notices… it is nothing but harassment,” she alleged and added she was passing through mental stress after the CDA took the decision against the builder.

Qaisar Mustafa while talking to The Nation said that his sister Sadia Hayat had purchased an apartment in 2012 after selling out three other properties. He said that they could not believe that they could be robbed of their property. “We don’t know whom to blame. Some felt bitter towards the builder for not getting an approval. Others felt that CDA wanted to swindle more money from the builder, while a few believed that someone very powerful in the government had personal scores to settle,” he added.

The purchasers also pointed fingers at the builder for misleading them and for not being transparent. As the saga continues to be battled in the courts, the purchasers are seeking answers.

They said that they are spending yet more money on lawyers to get clarity on their rights which have been infringed upon due to the incompetency of CDA and the government.

When contacted, CDA Spokesperson Mazhar Hussain said that the authority had tried to keep everything transparent from day one.

He told The Nation that it had advertised each and everything in the press relating to the project. He said that the investment is safe and added that now the CDA has asked the purchasers to submit their claims so that the authority could take a decision to return the money to the purchasers.