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Musharraf to move into his farm house

November 06, 2008 15:30 IST
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Residents of the sleepy and pastoral Chak Shahzad area on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital have mixed feelings about their new neighbour former President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, who stepped down in August after staying nearly nine years in power, is expected to soon move into a sprawling farm house he has built in Chak Shahzad, a neighbourhood that has a mix of residential homes and dairy farms.

While some residents are happy that Musharraf's shifting to the area has improved civic amenities, others do not have happy memories of his years in power and would rather not see him living in their midst.

"While Islamabad and the rest of Pakistan was grappling with long power cuts throughout this summer, we did not have a single power cut in Chak Shahzad," said Umair, a resident of the area who was unwilling to give his full name.

"I heard that Musharraf sahab came to visit his farm house one day when there was a power cut. He told the authorities that there should not be any more power cuts and we enjoyed uninterrupted power supply after that," Umair, a businessman whose home is located near the former military ruler's farm house, told PTI.

However, another man living in the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "We are not happy to have a dictator living in our midst. This is the man who is responsible for Pakistan's economic problems and the widespread violence.

"Musharraf is the man who was responsible for the killings in Lal Masjid and all the bloodshed. We would rather not have him as our neighbour."

Musharraf's farm house at 1-A Park Road in Chak Shahzad has been built on a five-acre plot and includes a swimming pool and a walking track. There is also an orchard of lemon, peach and apple trees.

The fawn-coloured house with sloping green roofs is surrounded by walls with coils of barbed wire running along the top.

Hammad Husain, the architect and a family friend, recently said in a media interview that Musharraf had made it clear to him that the house should not look "like a huge, fortified castle".

Husain, whose father served with Musharraf in Pakistan's Special Forces, said the design has Moroccan, Turkish and Japanese influences and this was partly inspired by Musharraf's travels.

Musharraf spent part of his youth in Turkey when his father was posted there and recent reports had even suggested he might migrate to Turkey.

Residents of Chak Shahzad said the prices of land in the area had already registered a steep rise since Musharraf acquired a plot in the area. "I was allotted my plot in Chak Shahzad in the early 1980s for only Rs 10,000 but it is now worth crores of rupees," said Umair.

But it might still not be smooth sailing for Musharraf when he shifts to Chak Shahzad from Army House, the army chief's official residence in Rawalpindi which he continues to occupy despite quitting that post late last year.

Shortly before he was deposed by Musharraf, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had begun hearing a case regarding the violation of laws though the allotment of farm land for residential homes on the outskirts of Islamabad. The case is yet to be decided.

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