Proof of Special US-PAK Relations: Pakistan to consider change in building laws just for the United States

…to restrict the US Embassy in Islamabad from building what is reportedly a new seven-storey embassy.

Apparently, the seven-storey, excuse me nine-storey , oh, never mind — insert number of storey-building here is just too high, or too suspicious, or both and my, why do you need such a tall building to put in way too many people to oversee way too much aid money there?  Around the interwebs, concerns include fears that there will be spies eating potato chips at such a high perch, giving them something like a “whole of government” view of Islamabad.  If built according to plans, would the seven-storey US Embassy get the moniker as the tallest building in Islamabad? In which case, the surveillance aircraft the USG gave to Pakistan could be put to good use.

We have posted about the NEC construction in Pakistan previously, the following from the publicly available fedbiz:

Islamabad, Pakistan NEC:

The project will consist of the design and construction of a New Embassy Office (NOB), new office annex building (NOX), Marine Security Guard Quarters (MSGQ), general services offices and warehouse, central utility plan, site utilities and infrastructure, compound access facilities, and demolition of existing buildings on the US Embassy Compound in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Approximate Site: 168,000 square meters
New buildings area: 79,000 square meters
Estimated design-build cost: $530 – $630 million

Islamabad, Pakistan Housing:

The project will consist of the design and construction of a permanent staff housing buildings, recreation and support structures, central utility plan, site utilities and infrastructure, and compound access facilities on newly acquired property for the US Embassy Compound in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Approximate Site: 48,600 square meters
New buildings area: 75,000 gross square meters
Estimated design-build cost: $140 – $200 million

After the plan had been reportedly approved by the  Capital Development Authority, the chairman of the same agency is quoted in a local newspaper saying,  “As the construction of the new complex of US embassy is in its initial stage – its first storey is being constructed – the US authorities can be asked to follow our new guidelines.”

We do feel sorry for the contractor who will need a daily dose of migraine meds from this day onward…. because something else will surely come up. Walls too tall? Projected perimeter lights too bright … what else need new guidelines?

Wrecking ball at work during the demolition of...

Wrecking ball at work during the demolition of a old milling building in Dresden, Plauen district. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The report also quotes the US Embassy Spokesman, “The embassy is proceeding according to the approved building plan and has not received any notice that CDA is changing the plan.”

We have a bad feeling about this. What if the notice or whatever is sent via snail mail, and is taking the circuitous route from Islamabad to Washington via the Mariana Trench (oh, hello James Cameroon!) and six times back and around, they may need a wrecking ball for the top three floors of the building, by the time this is over ….

On the other hand —

… if the Government of Pakistan kept changing its building laws, perhaps somebody will put a light brake on this project, something that was utterly missing when we built the US Embassy in Baghdad.  After all, if the US Embassy in Baghdad ever transitions to what you and I would consider a “normal” embassy, what are they going to do with all that building space? (Al Kamen’s contest winners suggested turning it into something called the Fertile Crescent Community College or into “America’s Last Resort” with full spa experience). Perhaps we should be asking the same question in the case of the new US Embassy in Islamabad? When all the aid money is disbursed and when US military operation in Afghanistan winds down in 2014, what are they going to do with all that space?

Domani Spero

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