A house of my own

Mega projects and Nawaz Sharif seem to be made for each other. Sharif has to his credit a 16-billion-rupee yellow cab scheme and a 40-billion-rupee Lahore-Islamabad motorway. And now he has come up with Mera Ghar (My Home), a project so big that his two previous ventures stand dwarfed in comparison.

Estimated at PKR 400 billion (c. USD 8 billion), Mera Ghar is one of the largest development schemes in Asia. It envisages constructing 500,000 housing units for lower and middle-income groups on 20,000 acres of state land in different cities within the next three years. According to the plan, the government is to provide land free, while the buyer has to come up with 25 percent of the cost of the house, with the remaining 75 percent to be paid in installments spread over 15 years. Sounds grand indeed, but economists fear that if the scheme flops it will take the whole banking system of the country and the economy, along with it.

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Himal Southasian