Owning a Mercedes Benz , it seems, takes precedence over everything else in Pakistan.
This status-related fascination for the German automobile has crossed all bounds of social rectitude, especially in Punjab, where the provincial government is set to coercively takeover about 1,200 acres of prime agricultural land in Sheikhupura District to build a Mercedes-Benz assembly plant.
The project will result in the eviction of about 250 farmer families, who, according to the Dawn, were allotted this land in Kot Pindi Das in Sheikhupura against their lost property in India as a result of their migration in 1947.
The Punjab Land Acquisition Act of 1894 is being overstretched in the name of 'public interest'.
The law allows the government to take over private land for public use against compensation at market rates but not for private business, lawyers said.
The area under acquisition is not only being used to set up an automobile plant, but also to create a 57 acre golf course, a five-star hotel on 505 acres of land, a 478-acre race track and 99 acres for expansion.
According to the District Revenue Officer, Sheikhupura, the land is likely to be taken over Coastal (Pvt) Limited at rates way below the existing market price.
So angry are the residents of Kot Pindi Das that they have formed the 'Anjuman Kissan Mutasrin-e-Mercedes-Benz' to protest in Lahore and Islamabad.
They claim that the government cannot acquire land on behalf of a private venture and that, too, at less than half the price.