A true rags to riches story

Malik Riaz

Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, one of the richest people in the country right now, used to be an ordinary clerk, but he has turned a billionaire in a span of 20 years and continues his journey of amassing wealth, according to a report in BBC Urdu.

The 63-year-old businessman was born to a contractor and after his father suffered heavy losses in business, Riaz, who had only done his matriculation then, was forced to work as a clerk. He later worked as a low-key contractor in the military for some time. Riaz recalls the time, with much agony, as one of the most difficult times of his life. The pains he suffered then included not having money for his daughter’s medical treatment, painting houses to earn his bread and paving roads. When democratic governments were falling one after the other in 1990s, Malik Riaz realized that the military could be a formidable ally while conducting business in the country.

Call it Riaz’s cunning or smartness, but a little educated person like him began giving suggestion for amassing wealth to top military officials. A lawyer contesting cases against Malik Riaz in the Supreme Court said he had submitted evidence of agreements between Malik Riaz and former Navy chief Admiral (r) Fasih Bukhari with the court. Noted defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa also said in her book that top military officials helped Malik Riaz get hold of vast swathes of land in exchange for agreed returns. Malik’s luck took a major turnaround when the Pakistan Navy withdrew from backing a housing project in Rawalpindi, however, it could not get its name detached from the project. Thus was formed Bahria Town.

Malik Riaz has since developed numerous housing projects in various cities. The baffling fact is that his company announced developing new housing sectors and schemes without actually owning the land or planning the project on the ground, but people still barged in to Bahria Town offices, often scuffling and panting to get the limited registration forms.  During the span of his building his empire, Malik Riaz has had to face various charges in several courts, including getting opponents murdered, fraud, land grabbing and enmities, but he has since been relieved of several of the cases while some still remain pending.

With the reversal of fortunes, Malik Riaz, who used to wait for hours for a captain or major to grab an ordinary contract, is now employing several retired army generals in his Bahria Town concern. His close friends say Riaz has the ability to judge a man’s greediness in one meeting and he then deals with him accordingly. He is a fascinating personality, one who is friends with several past, present and possible future leaders of the country. He was facing several cases in NAB in 1999, but he then became friends with Pervez Musharraf. His friendship with Asif Ali Zardari has brought him goods too.

Be it some task irking the Sharif brothers or a requirement for funds for a PTI rally, Malik Riaz is known well for feeling the winds changing and adjusting his masts accordingly. It is also an open secret now that it was Riaz who managed the Bhurban meeting and agreement between Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Still, Malik Riaz has done wonders for the Pakistani middle class, providing them high quality residential facilities at a much lower cost. His organization arranges medical treatment of hundreds of poor patients, is educating thousands of children in the schools run under its aegis, and Bahria Town also caters free food to thousands of poor people every day. But an opponent lawyer said Malik Riaz’s good deeds were a smokescreen to hide his actual malpractices. Well, it is not for us to decide! -Pakistantoday