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ISI asks CDA to avoid direct interactions with foreign diplomats

Updated August 30, 2017

ISALMABAD: Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on Tuesday directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) not to directly entertain foreign diplomats.

It said all communications and visits of diplomats to the CDA and the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) offices should take place through the Foreign Office.

A senior officer of the ISI met Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, who is also the acting chairman of the CDA, at the CDA headquarters.

The meeting was held a day after Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost visited the CDA headquarters and held a meeting with the mayor.

“Yes, today an ISI officer held a meeting with me. He discussed some security-related issues,” the mayor told Dawn.

When asked about any instruction from the ISI, the mayor said: “The officer told me not to entertain diplomats directly and involve the Foreign Office in the process. We are already following this protocol.”

Sources in the CDA said the Iranian ambassador visited the CDA headquarters to get a property issue of the embassy in F-6 sector resolved.

Intelligence officer says communications with diplomats should be routed through Foreign Office

“I don’t remember the exact issue but I think the Iranian embassy wants to renovate its building in F-6. I have already nominated my focal person who is dealing with the embassy staff,” the mayor said.

However, a CDA officer on the condition of anonymity said the meeting between the ISI officer and the mayor was already planned and had nothing to do with the visit of the Iranian diplomat.

Another officer of the CDA added that there were chances that the ISI officer had also discussed the reconstruction of the US embassy building in violation of the bylaws as recently pointed out by auditors.

The CDA is the custodian of Diplomatic Enclave which houses embassies and foreign missions. The embassies often interact with the CDA for resolving their municipal issues.

The CDA also allocates land for the embassies and being regulatory body approves their building plans. Currently, the civic agency is in hot water for its failure to stop the violation of bylaws in the reconstruction of the US embassy building as highlighted by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP).

The AGP report said the CDA board in June 2012 had decided to increase the floor area of the building. It had also decided that the number of storeys would be ground-plus seven.

The report said it was decided that before the implementation of the decision the case would be forwarded to the Cabinet Division for the approval of the prime minister. The board had also decided to hold on the no-objection certificate (NOC) for the embassy building till a final decision by the prime minister.

The federal auditors said the building control directorate of the civic agency had approved the building plan of the US embassy in January 2012, covering 1,734,212.23 square feet for eight floors in contradiction of the bylaws. But the civic agency in June the same year decided that the revision of the building bylaws would be forwarded to the prime minister.

The auditors said though an approval by the prime minister was pending, the construction of the embassy building was started and was now near completion.

The CDA took no action to stop the construction work. In 2012, security agencies complained to the then CDA chairman that upon completion the eight-storey US embassy building would overlook most of the ministries and other official buildings in the vicinity.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2017