The completion of the cadastral mapping of Islamabad, which was marked by a ceremony on Wednesday attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan personally, is a landmark not just for Islamabad but for the whole country. This frees the land record from the grip of the patwari and other land revenue officials. While this digitization of land record is going on throughout the country, cadastral mapping is particularly important for Islamabad and other big cities, like Lahore and Karachi, where the project is to go next. It will help establish ownership rights, which is especially a concern for overseas Pakistanis, who find that their absence abroad means that the property they have purchased is grabbed. One of their worst problems has been to provide the record necessary to establish ownership. For this problem to be solved in Islamabad means that a city which is a hotbed of illegal possession will probably see a decrease in the malfeasances of the qabza mafias, carried out in connivance with the CDA.
There should not only be greater security of ownership, but a reduction in the amount of litigation which takes place. It should also help promote foreign direct investment. Foreign investors are too often scared away by the prospect of having title problems with the land on which they will erect their project; while this will probably not end, it should be greatly reduced.
There is the prospect of this being applied to the whole country, where again the clearing up of ownership rights would help reduce the amount of litigation that goes on over agricultural land.
It should be recognized that cadastral mapping is not really revolutionary. It merely means the application of modern technology to existing methods. However, since the previous technology, and system used, date back almost six centuries, it represents a modernization that was overdue. It should be introduced in rural areas as well, which the present government can easily do in at least three provinces. The tyranny of the patwari is best broken this way, something which is felt much more in the rural areas.