ISLAMABAD, June 25: Almost 20 years after it opened its doors to patients, a premier agency wants to probe how the city’s elegant and expensive private hospital, Shifa International, came up, and expanded, in Sector H-8.
Dawn has learnt that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has written to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to provide it the records about the hospital for its anti-corruption circle to investigate “irregularities and violation of building by-laws” in the construction of the hospital and its medical college.
Established in 1993 by Pakistani doctors who had done well in America, the hospital’s founder president, late Dr Zaheer Ahmed, added Shifa Medical College to it in 1999.Asked for his comments, the hospital’s public relations officer, Azmatullah Quraishi, said: “The FIA has written to the CDA, not to us. We have nothing to do in the matter. The CDA is to respond to the queries.”
An FIA official said the agency wanted to know the terms and conditions on which the prime site was allotted to Shifa Trust and the layout plans of the hospital and the medical college.
It has also sought CDA documents that permitted the hospital shift its parking lot from its basement to a green area outside, skirting a public park, and “open an Emergency Gate on the north-western side of the hospital”.
A law officer of the CDA confirmed to Dawn receiving the FIA requests from the additional director of the FIA crime circle, Mohammad Sajjad Haider, but sounded reluctant to meet them. “We can provide the information only when our chairman asks to do so, and there have been no such instructions from him,” he said.
In fact, requests for CDA records have to be routed through the Ministry of Interior.
“The FIA sent its requests directly to us. They should have made the requests to the Ministry of Interior for the Cabinet Division to forward them to the office of CDA Chairman to reach finally the Building Control Directorate,” the CDA officer said.
“A few of the CDA approvals that FIA is seeking regarding Shifa International Hospital are still pending with the CDA Board,” he said. They include approval of a parking plaza that the hospital wants to establish.
Asked were all the approvals made in the past in accordance with CDA building by-laws, he said: “Once the inquiry is complete, all the facts will be released to media for public information. The CDA will not hide anything the FIA wants to probe with regard to Shifa International Hospital.”