Published in The Nation
by M. Ashgar Khan
The shifting of the Army’s General Headquarters from Rawalpindi to Islamabad has been planned for some time and was given a fresh impetus during 2007. We have not been told what the total financial burden of this move will be but the cost of land alone at the prevalent rates in Islamabad is about Rs 100,000 to Rs 120,000 per sq yard.
The army would, of course, not be required to pay this amount for the land to the CDA but the CDA could earn this amount if they were to sell this land to civilians for residential or commercial purposes. The expenditure involved is believed to be more than the total Defence Budget of Pakistan for the current year and many times more than the education budget of the country. In a country where millions do not get a square meal a day, where we are woefully short of schools and medical facilities and where even clean drinking water is not available for the ordinary citizen, to spend such a large amount on moving an existing facility a few miles cannot be justified.