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RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi will cease to be the interim capital as all the Ministries and the Presidential Secretariat will shift to Islamabad by the end of next year, it is learnt [March 19].

Four Secretariat blocks have already been occupied by 10 complete Divisions of the Central Ministries, while the remaining four are nearing completion.

Although these new blocks are expected to be ready in a couple of months, the Ministries will not be able to occupy them because of non-availability of the residential accommodation for the staff. In this connection, it is further learnt, about 2,700 houses and bungalows of different types are under construction which will take about 18 to 20 months to be completed.

The construction of the President’s House, the site of which was seen by President Ayub yesterday, will soon be taken in hand.

Building designs for the President’s House have already been approved and now minor amendments are being carried out in the plans.

The President is keen to see all the Ministries moved from Rawalpindi as soon as possible.

The Minister of Industries, Mr Altaf Husain, is already residing in Islamabad. Two other Ministers, Mr Shamsud Doha and Mr Uqaili, are also trying to get some accommodation on rent in the new capital. They are expected to shift there very soon.

[Meanwhile, as reported by our correspondent in Dacca,] authoritative circles yesterday [March 18] blamed certain opposition elements for what they termed as whipping up an agitation and spreading alarm in the public’s mind on the issue of recent cases of 11 deaths due to alleged food poisoning.

While the exact cause of these deaths in Kushtia, Khulna and Pabna on three successive days early this week is yet to be established, reports emanating from the districts have it that it was allegedly caused by atta and maize. Over 150 persons were also admitted to hospitals during the period with ailment of the stomach.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017