According to a report of local English daily, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency has raised concern over the approval by the Capital Development Authority for construction of US embassy complex’s seven-storey building describing it a security hazard, as activities in important buildings, including the Presidency, Prime Minister House and Parliament House could easily be monitored from the roof top of the complex.
The building blueprint was reportedly approved on 16th January this year by a committee comprising officials of the CDA, representatives of Planning, Emergency and Disaster Management and members nominated by the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners. Earlier, the Capital Development Authority had sold 8.2 acres of land (164 kanals) at the rate of US$500 per square yard without bringing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the loop. The US Embassy was already occupying a vast area of 31.9 acres in Diplomatic Enclave. In October, 2010, the US Embassy again approached Ministry of Foreign Affairs and CDA for the allotment of 8.2 acres of land at the rate of US$500 per square yard.
In Karachi, a huge fortress-like complex on 20.5 acres of land with latest facilities has been constructed for the US Consulate General. It is said that the place will be used as US base for activities in Sindh and Balochistan. According to sources, the US is acquiring land at Gwadar, Quetta and Multan for establishing its consulates. On 21st January, the US Consulate General in Karachi was moved to a new location, and according to the Consul General, it will allow them to expand consular services to the public. The US embassy claimed that the expansion manifested the commitment of the United States to a comprehensive and sustained partnership with the people and Government of Pakistan. Increased personnel and the new building will assist the US government to better meet demand for consular services and increase civilian assistance to Pakistan. This is all rhetoric. It is in fact continuation of policy of appeasement like generous issue of visas issued to 436 US officials in July, 2010. The purpose of visits was shown to be “official business”, “assignment”, “NGO Duty”, “USAID”, “US Army assignment” and “Dyncorps”.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had authorised the Pakistan Ambassador in Washington to issue visas to US citizens without clearance by security agencies in Pakistan and more than 500 such visas within three days after the PM’s authorization to the then Pakistan ambassador to the US to issue visas bypassing the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The strength of the US Mission in Islamabad had swollen from 280 to about 1,000, including CIA personnel, without any agreement between the two governments. The PM’s letter empowering the ambassador flouted the visa policy formulated within months before its issuance. There is a long list of betrayals by the US, but the way America has betrayed Pakistan, especially during the last four years, is despicable. The US has paid only a fraction of what it had committed under the Kerry-Lugar law. Moreover, it has not reimbursed amounts under coalition support fund for the last two years on the pretext that the figures were inflated. But this has put constraints on Pakistan’s ability to effectively fight the war on terror.
After attack on Salala check posts by NATO killing 26 security personnel, Pakistan had stopped the transit facility for supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, and now the recommendations have been submitted by the parliamentary committee for security to the Parliament, which will decide about new rules of engagement and terms and conditions. Pakistan has already suffered enormously in men and treasury first by joining the Afghan jihad, and then by joining the war on terror. Today, when the US is planning an exit strategy from Afghanistan, some political eminences, commentariat, anchor persons, analysts and panelists are creating fears in the minds of public that annoying the sole super power is fraught with dangers. They say that Pakistan is facing fiscal and current accounts deficit, and since America has complete control over the IMF and other international financial institutions, they could stop rescheduling of loans and Pakistan could default. Pakistani leadership should work out plans to get rid of the dependency syndrome so that it does not have to buckle under pressure to do America’s bidding.
It is quite normal that ambassadors and officials of consular general cultivate relations with the government, media and intellectual elite with a view to strengthening ties and creating goodwill in general. But American ambassadors and consular officers have the reputation of going beyond the accepted norms under Vienna Convention. It is an open secret that contractors or CIA personnel like Raymond Davis were issued visas as technical staff members of the US embassy or consul general. Yet US embassy had insisted that Raymond Davis enjoyed immunity under Vienna Convention 1963, though the technical staffers do not enjoy that immunity. There is a widespread perception that the CIA is funding some political activists, media men and NGOs with a view to advancing its interests. Our political eminences considered American ambassadors as their ‘family members’, and used to discuss with them even their personal matters. At the present also, political leaders wish to remain in the good books of the US ambassador and do things to curry favour with America.
Today, the nation is confronted with gigantic challenges, both external as well as internal. Externally, a heady super power is sending ominous signals. Internally the nation is hopelessly entangled in a vicious terrorism involving a multiplicity of terrorist forces including foreign proxies, homegrown militants, sectarian fanatics, ethnic firebrands and criminal thugs. Finally, Pakistan is facing perennial fiscal and current account deficits, and this is the reason that Pakistan has to fall back upon the IMF and other international financial institutions. In fact, our ruling elite comprising feudal politicians and British trained civil and military bureaucracy had entwined Pakistan in pacts with the West in 1950s. Instead of working for self-reliance, they depended on them and bartered away our sovereignty for peanuts. At this point in time, the ruling and opposition parties and their leaders should work in unison to meet those challenges and make Pakistan a self-reliant country to rid the dependency syndrome that compels Pakistan to do America’s bidding.