ISLAMABAD: As the New Year dawned in Islamabad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted publicly that there were rats running around its offices — under the tables, in cupboards, behind sofas, in the kitchen — forcing it to approach the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to come forth and help. The ministry wanted the PPRA to help rid it of these creatures before they took over the entire ministry itself and outnumbered diplomats and other officials.
While the new building of the ministry is still incomplete with work going on at snail’s pace and costs sky-rocketing, diplomats and their staff are staying put at the former Hotel Shehrezad with these creatures keeping them company.
Shahid Iqbal, Assistant Director (GSS-I), has placed an advertisement on the website of the PPRA seeking sealed tenders for “Rat Eradication And Fumigation Of Whole Office Building Of The Ministry”.
The December 27 advertisement further adds: “Interested firms may send their tenders in a sealed envelope clearly mentioned in the right corner of the envelope for which the tenders will be submitted. Earnest money in the shape of Demand Draft @ 2 percent of the total amount of tender in favour of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must accompany the application, without which no tender will be issued. Tenders can be submitted in the office of Assistant Director (GS-I), Room No. 413, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad till 1000 hours and will be opened after 15 days from the date of first publication of the advertisement in a newspaper/PPRA website.”
It goes without saying — and The News has been witness to the fact for several decades now — that the kitchen of the Foreign Ministry turns out the most delicious vegetable samosas, and the best coffee in town is served on the third floor. Some of Pakistan’s leading artists have their work displayed here with even a few Chughtais in the office of the foreign secretary. So there is no doubt that at least these rats, which have made the ministry their home, have great taste.
The ministry is headed by a woman foreign minister and there are many senior female diplomats stationed at the headquarters. Several recent VIP guests have been women as well, including Hillary Clinton and Nirupama Rao. But they have all managed to keep a stiff upper lip even if they have seen rats scurrying past. It goes to their credit that not once has anyone heard any top diplomat shrieking at the sight of these rats, or jumping atop the nearest table.
While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that it reserves the right to accept or reject any or all tenders in accordance with the PPRA Rules without assigning any reason, the ‘eradication’ and ‘fumigation’ of rats will be the top priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2013.
Happy New Year to everyone at the ministry!