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August 9, 2018

Punjab House too luxurious to promote austerity

Top Story

August 9, 2018

ISLAMABAD: If the objective is to promote simplicity and austerity, the prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan has certainly made a wrong choice of making the Punjab House, Islamabad, as his official residence.

He decided not to shift to the palatial Prime Minister’s House and chose the place which in some ways is far more luxurious than any other official residence in the capital, including the Presidency and PM House.

With six executive suites and a VVIP floor, the Punjab House was constructed by Manzoor Wattoo during his tenure as Punjab chief minister. It is one of the most regal and expensive public buildings with a master bed and suite spread over almost 10,000 sq feet at the VVIP floor. It is like an emperor’s suite with the best possible views of Margalla.

The master suite has its own sprawling drawing room, walk-in closet, huge bathroom, and balcony. It has its own big kitchen. The same building is known as the CM’s annexe and also referred as A Block and VVIP wing.

It has three floors. The top floor is the VVIP floor with master bed and suite. The second floor has four executive suites and the ground floor has a reception hall, two beds and a large waiting lounge.

The foyer of the annexe has most expensive chandelier and the largest carpet ever to be lain in a public building. It has a special lift for the VVIP floor. The furniture has been provided by leading designers in Pakistan and has collection of most exclusive hand knotted carpets and paintings from leading artists. It is centrally air conditioned.

Because of its royal luxury and comfort, Nawaz Sharif has been using it but his younger brother Shahbaz rarely used the VVIP suite. The Punjab House sits atop a hill just opposite to the official residence of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. It has adjacent Governor’s annex, which is of the same size but quite simple in décor. There is a third annexe, which is the conference hall.

The Punjab House has approximately 100 employees but in case it becomes the official residence of the PM, its security for being on the hill will be exposed from all the four sides requiring huge deployment of police.

PTI chief’s close aide Naeemul Haque on Wednesday said that Imran Khan had selected the Punjab House as his official residence in the Federal Capital. In his victory speech, Imran Khan had announced not to shift to the PM House and resolved to use the palace-like government buildings for public welfare as they consume billions of rupees taxpayers’ money.

The PM House is located in an area of 135 acres. The PM House features five spacious lawns, a fruit orchard, a number of swimming pools and a banquet hall, media and committee rooms. There are also 10 servant quarters, residences for security officers, staff and members of the Public Works Department and police.

Inside the PM House, around 50 protocol officers work in their offices. The security budget of the complex is around Rs980 million, while Rs700 million are allocated for the PM House staff. According to the PTI leadership, four universities equaling the area of Pakistan’s top varsity — Quaid-i-Azam University (spread over 35 acres in the capital) — can be set up in the PM House.

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