WASHINGTON: The highest bidder for a Pakistan embassy property in the US capital is Shahal Khan of Burkhan World Investments and he is also the likely winner of this bid, sources privy to the development told Dawn.

Mr Khan is believed to have offered $6.8 million for the property. Burkhan World is based in Washington and claims to “invest in projects that it believes will have a positive impact on our society”.

A Jewish group, which presumably wanted to build a synagogue at this site, submitted the ‘second-highest’ and not the ‘highest bid’, as reported earlier. The third bidder was an American investment company, which apparently employs US citizens of Indian origin as well.

Official sources told Dawn that “the process of implementing the bid has started”, which can be interpreted as “the highest bidder will get the property”, as agreed.

In an emailed response to Dawn, Devin Orrego Guevara, a representative for Burkhan World, also confirmed that the highest bid for the property was submitted by Shahal Khan.

Shahal Khan of Burkhan World Investments said to have offered $6.8m

Mr Khan “would like to make the building the centre of peace and it will also be tied to the Khan Institute of Economic Security and Peace at American University”, Mr Guevara wrote.

Mr Guevara also sent a newspaper clipping, confirming that Burkhan Investments had submitted a bid of $6.8m for the building.

Reports in the Pakistani media stated that on Nov 30, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) informed the federal cabinet that the Pakistan embassy in Wash­in­g­ton relocated to its present site in April 2003.

Since then, two old chancery buildings, at 2201 R Street and 2315 Massa­ch­usetts Avenue, have remained unoccupied.

In 2010, the then-prime minister approved the repair and renovation of both buildings through a loan of $7m secured from the National Bank of Pakistan in Washington.

About 60 per cent of the repair/renovation work at the R-Street property was completed by the end of 2012 and then it was abandoned. The former embassy building, however, was completely renovated.

In 2018, the diplomatic status of the R-Street property was revoked, rendering it liable to local taxes.

In 2019, the embassy paid $819,833, and since then, $1.3m in taxes have accumulated.

This tax liability would keep growing at $100,000 per quarter. Local authorities, however, have indicated that if the property is sold quickly, the outstanding tax liability may be waived.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2022

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