British-Pakistani millionaire to advise PM Khan on 'five-million homes' project

LONDON: British-Pakistani entrepreneur Aneel Musarrat said he would provide advice to Prime Minister Imran Khan with regard to the latter’s plans to build five million homes despite not taking up any formal role in the cabinet.

Since Khan assumed office, there has been a lot of speculation about the role of Musarrat, whose pictures with Imran Khan and few other top Pakistani officials went viral. The latest of these rumours are based on images wherein the premier is seen with Aneel Musarrat and Sahibzada Jahangir — both British nationals — during a meeting, with some people questioning if they the duo would be getting a position in the new government.
Musarrat, a millionaire, was seen again in Monday’s cabinet meeting wherein Khan reviewed progress on the formulation of a roadmap for the construction of five million houses across the country.
Jahangir, the elder brother of Fauzia Kasuri, is one of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief’s oldest friends, party founders, and Khan’s advisor on overseas Pakistanis whereas Musarrat has known the head-of-state since 2004.
Speaking to media for the first time about his role, Musarrat, 48, confirmed that neither would he take any official position in the Pakistani government nor does have any plans to do business here.
During the meeting, Musarrat explained, it was decided that the PM would take ownership of the initiative to ensure smooth implementation and remove any administrative bottlenecks. The decision to refrain from doing business in Pakistan was based on avoiding conflict of interest.
“Alhamdullilah, I am doing profitable businesses in the United Kingdom and Europe and the profit return is good. I am interested in Pakistan only because its country of my origin and I want to give something back, not get anything.
“I will not do any business and I will not get any money for advising Imran Khan’s task force on housing.
However, the businessman confirmed that he would advise Khan’s team, which is dedicated to providing five million houses equipped with all basic facilities.
Pakistan faces a serious housing crisis and tens of millions of people are unable to access decent accommodation, Musarrat said, adding that it was unfortunate that in a country of millions, only a few influential people have almost hoarded the whole housing sector.
“The housing has to be for the poor people who have no chance otherwise of moving up the property ladder. They need support.
“My aim is to bring 10,000 new property developers into the market and take control away from a few people who decide everything about the housing to benefit themselves,” he said.
“This year I plan to deliver 9,000 homes in the UK and the sale value of these houses will be over £2 billion. I am using my company’s housing development experts to advise Pakistani government.
“The objective is to alleviate poverty and help Pakistan to recover economically. It’s an inward economy, with small capital required to buy homes.
“At least 10,000 new developers will enter the market to build 5 million homes,” Musarrat said, adding that he had discussed his plans with Khan, who liked the idea so much that he wanted him to become part of the task force.
While sharing his plan, he noted that radical changes were needed for this plan to go ahead and for rebooting the housing sector.
“I have proposed that if our plan is implemented, then six million jobs will be created for five million homes. Mortgages will be available to the customers that will enable the lower-middle and middle classes to afford new homes on easy payments through one window operation.
“Buyers will be able to get mortgages like they do in Europe. Banks will provide loans but I have informed Imran Khan that the banking laws will have to change for this purpose and he agrees with the idea. This will bring radical improvements in the economy.”
Musarrat added that he only wants to advise in light of his business expertise “to benefit Pakistan”. He said he had acquired properties in Lahore and Mianwali and would build hospitals for free maternal care.
“I will be funding these hospitals through my charitable foundation based in the UK.”
Musarrat has been helping the premier and his sister Aleema Khan raise funds through fundraising events in Manchester for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital (SKCH) and Namal College for nearly 12 years. He is seen as a close aide to Khan, who has attended weddings of his daughter and family members in Manchester and London.
Musarrat made his name in the British real estate market after starting off as a small-time property dealer but steadily grew into constructing and renting properties at a commercial level. He was once listed as one of the richest persons in the UK.