Pakistan’s embassy building in Washington gets a “blighted property” notice from the Department of Buildings (BOD), Washington, following a decade of neglect.
The notice said that the Building Enforcement Unit of the Department of Buildings (BOD), Washington, “has inspected your property and deemed it to be blighted”. The notice also asked the Pakistan Embassy, to “complete and submit a blighted building response form, within 30 days” or “your property will be designated as blighted and reclassified accordingly”, says a report in the Dawn.
The government of Washington DC has already downgraded the property classification which lies on the historic R-Street.
Pakistan has been trying to sell off the property owing to its severe financial position. Over the past many months of this year, Islamabad has also reduced the expenses of its diplomats and including those on tea and dinners. It has also asked its diplomats to not hire expensive hotels for their events due to plummeting foreign exchange reserves.
Even as Pakistan does not find suitable buyers for its property, the embassy building lies vacant and neglected for over 10 years now. It lost diplomatic protection in 2018, which means Pakistan now has to pay taxes to the local government.
An earlier news report by an agency had said that this “large building at the corner of 22nd and R street in downtown Washington, sticks out like a wart in the otherwise upscale neighbourhood”. The report added that plywood covers the windows, weeds are growing and empty bottles litter the doorways.
It is not just Pakistan. There are other countries whose buildings lie unattended to in the spick-and-span Washington where ordinary residents are supposed to maintain their properties.
Last year news reports had said that this embassy building had received bids from various investors but those were below expectations. These included bids from an India realtor, a Jewish group and also a Pakistani businessman.
The government of Shehbaz Sharif is undecided about selling off the building as it is considering whether it might be better to renovate the building and sell.
Pakistan’s diplomacy is getting impacted not only due to its poor economy but also because of rising violence over blasphemy, terror attacks and insurgency that has spooked foreign nationals.
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