ISLAMABAD - The precarious security situation in Karachi and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa has forced people to move to safer places but has resulted in a spike in real estate prices in cities like Islamabad and Lahore, adding to financial woes of locals and middle-class residents.

With the influx of people, especially from Karachi, hitting the two cities of Islamabad and Lahore property prices in both the cities are increasing rapidly. Consequently, rents have also gone up exponentially.

Most of the people who are moving to Lahore and Islamabad have good financial background so they are willing to pay any price for the purchase and rent of properties.

An investigative study done by The Nation shows that rents of the houses in Islamabad have gone up by at least 70 per cent. The same is the situation in the well-developed areas of Lahore.

For example, in the E-11 Sector of Islamabad, one year back the rent ranged between Rs 25,000-40,000 and now for the same house the landlords are demanding Rs 40,000-65,000 or even more in some localities.

The same percentage of increase has been observed in the prices of plots. Only a year before a 250-300 square yards plot that was being sold at a price of Rs 20 million has now crossed Rs 30 million in the main sectors of Islamabad and still there are buyers who are willing to pay that price. Even in the societies which are around 15 miles away from the main city of Islamabad but have better security arrangements, one cannot find a 250 square yards plot below Rs 10 million.

Haider Ali, a real estate agent, said that around 70 per cent of clients they are meeting are from Karachi and some are from KPK. “Most of our clients are big businessmen who are facing threats in Karachi so they have opted to move to Islamabad,” he said. Most of the people are buying plots and houses in Defence Housing Authority and Bahria Town for better security measures but increase in the prices of these towns is also affecting the property prices in Zone 1 of Islamabad.

Shoaib Ahmed, who recently moved to Islamabad said, “Apart from life threats in Karachi, we have to pay huge amounts to extortionists belonging to different political parties and in that situation, the business has become so tough to carry on.”He said they were not doing business to feed the extortionists.

“In Karachi, the government seems not interested to provide us security against these elements. If we do not pay them, they threaten to kill us and they do it literally and police know all the names but do nothing,” he said.

Another person Ali Ibrahim who moved to Lahore and established business here said, “Though there are crimes in this city, but for us, it is like heaven on earth, as while leaving home, we at least do not think about coming back alive or dead.”

Ali had bought a plot in Lahore Defence for a price of Rs 11 million and the same plot’s price was not more than Rs 6.5 million just a year back. “The plot price is still less than our lives,” Ali says.