The federal government has dismissed concerns surrounding provision of land for the proposed expansion of the US Embassy in Islamabad.
Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood submitted a one- page reply in the Supreme Court this week on behalf of the interior ministry in reply to a petition, filed by Wattan Party representative Barrister Zafarullah, which objected to granting the US mission more land.
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"Expansion of the US Embassy is a matter of bilateral interest and cannot be dictated merely on hear-say," the government maintains in its reply.
The Wattan Party had filed the petition in 2009 and asked the federation, through the cabinet secretary, secretary for the foreign affairs ministry and the Capital Development Authority to explain why 18 acres of land should be sold to the US.
The party had argued that US mission in Islamabad currently has 38 acres of land and there was no need to allot an additional 18 acres to it. Instead, it suggested that embassy should be allowed to rent space in Islamabad to fulfil needs.
“Islamabad is a very strategic place,” Barrister Zafarullah contended. However, the interior ministry said the matter was taken up with security agencies that have the mandate of vetting cases and giving no-objection certificates for land given leased to foreign missions, international non-governmental organisations, multinational corporations, among others.
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The ministry also termed allegations of turning Pakistan into a proxy of bigger power by allotting the land as flimsy.
“Pakistan being responsible state is surely capable of steering things as per national interest”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2016.