In a speech to parliament in 2016, current prime minister and then opposition member Imran Khan defended his possession of an apartment in London. This was the height of the Panamanian newspapers, and discussed were the different apartments and flats that then had or did not own Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. During the speech, Imran Khan mentioned an anecdote in which, when he bought his own London apartment in the 1990s, he told Mian Nawaz about it at a social gathering. Curious about this, Mian Nawaz asked what a marquee was, and Khan diligently explained that it was the top floor of a building. To this, Mian Nawaz quite seriously asked what Imran Khan would do if a tornado occurred and the upper apartment was blown up in it.
The little story got bipartisan laughter from the house, but what it also did was say something about the Lahori obsession with land ownership, and the resulting reluctance to housing and vertical growth. Karachi is still the largest city in Pakistan, but by some means, the larger metropolitan area of Lahore can now be almost equal in size, if not already a bit larger. However, for most of its history, the residents of Lahore have avoided the notion of vertical expansion of the size of their city, making it difficult to find housing in the city.
This was largely attributed to the “Punjabi mindset” of wanting to own the land under your feet. And while that has been a seemingly reasonable cultural explanation for a long time, another explanation is that so far Lahoris has probably never needed to depend on housing. With a smaller population and no need for mass labor, Lahore was a metropolis that mostly kept in its residential areas either cramped but flat enclaves or large suburban living conditions in its more posh places. But as the city expands rapidly, Lahoris will have to get used to housing.
However, in recent years there has been a movement towards this, and several real estate developers are investing in the construction of residential houses in the city. And indeed, some of them have become quite advanced: it is now possible to buy a $ 1 million apartment in Lahore, at least as much as listed prices on Feeta.pk. And although all of this sounds very promising, there are major setbacks due to how the regulation of apartment buildings in Lahore works.