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PM House to be converted into Institute of Higher Learning


News Analysis |

In an interesting development, Prime Minister has written letters to all governors, chief ministers and federal Ministers under his own signatures for adaptive re-use of public buildings with heritage value. The PM has made all possible efforts to ensure that public money is not spent on the lavish lifestyle of the ruling elite.

“Pakistan is facing a huge economic crisis so the ruling elite cannot afford the luxurious lifestyle which it was maintaining in the past,” the PM has reportedly said to the CMs and governors of all four provinces. Moreover, the letter states that PM has himself shown the way by choosing to live in a modest house voluntarily, instead of residing in the palatial 1100 kanals Prime Minister’s House.

A committee, National Oversight Committee’ to supervise the initiative and make sure its implementation has been constituted under the chairmanship of PM Khan.

“He also personally believes that public buildings presently under use as Governor’s House, Chief Ministers House, etc can be put to a more productive use by allowing access of the public to these buildings and has advised all concerned public office holders to take action on future use of these buildings already approved by him on the recommendations of a Committee of experts on priority basis as he would be monitoring the progress himself through the National History & Literary Heritage Division,” reads the letter written by PM.

The letter states that the PM has approved the following adaptive re-use of these public buildings:

 Serial Number: Name of the building: future adaptive reuse action: timeline
  1. Prime Minister’s House, Islamabad Approximately 1000 kanals of PM House and President House: Institute of Higher Learning/ Centre of excellence. Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training/HEC: 3 to 5 years
  2. Government House (Kashmir Point Murree) Boutique Hotel Government of Punjab through lease agreement after observing codal formalities: 45 days
  3. Punjab House (Pindi Point, Murree) Tourist Motel/ Tourist Complex Government of Punjab through lease agreement after observing codal formalities. 45 days
  4. Punjab House and Governor House (Annexe) Rawalpindi Institute of Information Technology/IT Park/Incubation Government of Punjab: 3 Months.
  5. Governor House, Lahore i). Building to be used as Heritage Museum and Art Gallery ii). Grounds/Lawns/Parkland & Zoo open to Public. iii). A fence similar to Bagh-e-Jinnah should replace boundary wall (On Mall Side). iv). Boys & Girls School, VTI, Medical Centre, Laboratory, Library/Gym, Madrasa/Mosque will be fenced off. v). A nominal ticket may be imposed. The government of Punjab: 3 to 6 Months.
  6. Free Masons Hall (CM Office), Lahore Crafts Museum/Conference Centre Government of Punjab: 200 days.
  7. Chamba House, Lahore New Governor House (Office & Residence of the Governor of Punjab) M/o Housing & Works to Handover to Punjab Government for Execution: 100 days.
  8. State Guest House, Lahore Five Star Hotel on Lease basis through open bidding. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 100 days.
  9. Governor House, Karachi i. Creating public activity spaces whilst providing access to gardens for public use. ii. Conversion into Arts & Cultural Centre Federal Government /Government of Sindh: i. 100 days ii. 3 years.
  10. State Guest House, Karachi May be leased out to the private sector after completing all codal formalities for conversion into a High-End Hotel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 100 days
  11. Qasr-e-Naz, Karachi May be leased out to the private sector after completing all codal formalities for conversion into a hotel Ministry of Housing & Works: 100 days.
  12. Governor House, Peshawar i. Tribal and National History Museum ii. Botanical Garden iii. Art Garden Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 3 years.
  13.  Governor House, Nathiagali Boutique Hotel by leasing out to the private sector after observing all codal formalities Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 100 days.
  14. Governor House, Quetta i. Main Building: Museum (Currently, there is no Museum in Quetta) ii. Annex Building: Ethnography Display Museum iii. Lawns/Gardens may be converted into Ladies/Children Park with separate entrance. The government of Balochistan: 3 Months.

Read more: PM House to be converted into an educational institution, says PTI…

A committee, National Oversight Committee’ to supervise the initiative and make sure its implementation has been constituted under the chairmanship of PM Khan. Other members include Minister for National History and Literary Heritage Shafqat Mehmood, Secretary to the Prime Minister Muhammad Azam Khan, National History and Literary Heritage Division Secretary Engineer Aamir Hasan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Ministry of Housing and Works Secretary Imran Zeb Khan.

Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Secretary Arshad Mirza, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri and chief secretaries of all provinces will also be part of the committee. In his maiden speech to the nation on August 19, PM Khan had said that there were 524 persons to serve the prime minister at the 1100-Kanal PM House, coupled with 80 cars, including 33 bulletproof ones having the price of Rs 50 million each, besides helicopters and an airplane.

Luxury became the crucial part of their living style. Indeed, they spent a more luxurious life than they (native politicians) used to spend in sub-continent under English rulers.

“At one hand the nation was burdened with debt and on the other, we have the elite. This system was created by the British during the colonial era to rule the masses, but even after independence the same practice was being followed,” PM remarked. It should be remembered that in the 2018-19 budget, a heavy sum of Rs986 million has been allocated for PM House. According to the Capital Development Authority (CDA), it encompasses 800 Kanal of land in which PM house and residential apartments of the staff are located.

As a matter of fact, Imran Khan is not the first one who has said not to use the official residence rather in 1997 and 2013 the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also said the same. But due to the security challenge, these words could have not been turned into reality. But Imran Khan is the only Prime Minister who is committedly doing what he had promised.

Read more: PTI Government opens up PM House for public

However, for many analysts, it will be difficult to operate an educational institution at a place which is said to be “Red Zone”. There are obviously security reasons for not making the place available for all and sundry. Pakistan is facing the menace of extremism and terrorism, it will be more important to take some serious security measures before the government finally plans to turn the PM house into a university.

Interestingly, a professor of history at Quaid-e-Azam University Dr. Ilhan Niaz believes that the building cannot be converted to university owing to security concerns but should be made civil service academy or any training institution. He further added that our politicians spent a deluxe life. Luxury became the crucial part of their living style. Indeed, they spent a more luxurious life than they (native politicians) used to spend in sub-continent under English rulers.”