Security agencies, US Embassy at loggerheads - Pakistan Today

Security agencies, US Embassy at loggerheads

  • CDA board decision regarding maximum number of storeys in Diplomatic Enclave still pending with PM, CDA tells MOFA

Ayesha Saleem Malik, assistant chief of Protocol, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), wrote a letter to chairman CDA on 25th October, 2016, in which she demanded a reply from CDA on the status of NOC to US Embassy and about the policies and laws of CDA in diplomatic enclave.

In the reply, BCS deputy director said that a team from his department visited the premises but was denied entry by the embassy.

In January, 2012, CDA Building Control Section approved embassy’s plan to construct 16 building with 7 floors in contradiction with existing building by-laws of civic authority.

Concerned security agencies expressed their concern on the decision immediately. Later on, in February 2012, the agencies wrote a letter to chairman CDA citing concerns that the structures built will overlook mot ministries and other official buildings including the parliament, President Secretariat and Prime Minister Secretariat.

“Roof-top of the said buildings would be utilised to install surveillance devices, which could be used to electronically monitor important offices of the government in the area,’ reads the letter.

During the same time, a meeting between member Planning and Design, DG MCSE, DDG ISI, Brigadier Akmal Saeed was held at foreign ministry and it was decided that a summary restricting the maximum number of floors to 5 in diplomatic enclave may have been approved by PM, and the embassy might be told to make necessary amends to its number of storeys in compliance of new-zoning laws.

US Embassy, according to reports, has already built eight stories, on a land measuring 41,140 square yard, in direct contravention of CDA by-laws for diplomatic enclave, according to which only five storeys were allowed.

US Embassy is stretched across 8.5 acre land in Diplomatic Enclave. Originally, the embassy had the approval of 4 storeys at the price of $800 per sq yard, which amounts to $200 per floor. However, when the embassy constructed 8 storeys, the cost was reduced to $100 per sq yard per floor.

CDA lost $54.851 million in this regard; furthermore, US Embassy is not paying Annual Ground Rent of 3.872 million dollars, which is pending for the last four years.

BCS wrote another letter to MOFA’s director general (Americas), MOFA and informed him that the embassy was fined 1 million rupees due to illegal disposing of sewage in a Nullah violating Building Control Regulation, 2005. However, payment was still outstanding.

Furthermore, Building Control Directorate allowed the US Embassy to utilize 2 acres of land for construction without any prior approval from CDA, which also cost CDA $3.872m.

Till to date, the prime minister hasn’t approved the construction plan of storeys on which construction is under progress. US Embassy has failed to comply with the directions of various departments on other matters too.

An officer from security agency, on condition of anonymity, told Pakistan Today, that the construction of such high-rise buildings in the diplomatic enclave is a serious threat to national security. “The embassy did not permit the CDA officials to check the structure from inside despite having the directions from MOFA in this regard. We can’t rule out the possibility that US embassy is electronically monitoring the confidential conversations of the president, and prime minister, which may lead to security breaches,’ he said.

When contacted, CDA Public Relation Officer, Mazhar Hussain said that the matter will be highlighted to the top brass of civic management, and an action would be taken against the embassy if they were found guilty.

Despite several attempts to contact US embassy for a comment, no comment was granted.

Farid Sabri

The writer is a member of Pakistan Today's Islamabad bureau. He can be contacted at his email [email protected], and Twitter: @FaridSabri786



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One Comment;

  1. Riaz Ahmad said:

    Laws and rules are very profitable commodities in Pakistan, they are bypassed or sold for a very lucrative profit in each and field and each and every nook and corner in Pakistan, so why the fuss about this US embassy building. In Pakistan, national security and national interest are also commodities up for sale just like law, law enforcement and justice.

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