Islamabad The US is embarking on a $1 billion crash program to expand its diplomatic presence in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, another sign that the Obama administration is making a costly, long term commitment to war torn South Asia, US officials said Wednesday.
The White House has asked Congress for and seems likely to receive $736 million to build a new US embassy in Islamabad, along with permanent housing for US government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital. In Peshawar, the US government is negotiating the purchase of a five star hotel that would house a new US consulate.
Funds for the projects are included in a 2009 supplemental spending cheap jerseys from china bill that the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed in slightly different forms.
Obama has repeatedly stated that stabilizing Pakistan and Afghanistan, the countries from which Al Qaeda and the Taliban operate, is vital to US national security. He’s ordered thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan and is proposing substantially increased aid to both countries.
Macro buildings to micro manage?
In Pakistan, however, large parts of the population are hostile to the US presence in the region despite receiving billions cheap jersey wholesale china of dollars in aid from buy jerseys wholesale Washington since 2001 and anti American groups and politicians are likely to seize football jerseys online on the expanded diplomatic presence in Islamabad as evidence of American “imperial designs.”
“This is a replay of Baghdad,” said Khurshid Ahmad, a member of Pakistan’s upper house of parliament for Jamaat e Islami, one of the country’s jersey nfl china two main religious political parties. “This [Islamabad embassy] is more [space] than they should need. It’s for the micro and macro management of Pakistan, and using Pakistan for pushing the American agenda in Central Asia.”
In Baghdad and other dangerous locales, US diplomats have sometimes found themselves cut off from the population in heavily fortified compounds surrounded cheap jerseys by blast walls, concertina wire, and armed guards.
“If you’re going to have people live in a car bomb prone place, you are driven to not have a light footprint,” said Ronald Neumann, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan and the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. Mr. Neumann called the planned expansions “generally pretty justified.”
In Islamabad, according to State Department budget documents, the plan calls for the rapid construction of a $111 million new office annex to accommodate 330 workers; $197 million to build 156 permanent and 80 temporary housing units; and a $405 million replacement of the main embassy cheap hockey jerseys building. The existing embassy, in the capital’s leafy diplomatic enclave, was badly damaged in a 1979 assault by Pakistani students.
The US government also plans to revamp its consular buildings in the eastern city of Lahore and in Peshawar, cheap wholesale from china the regional capital of the militancy plagued North West Frontier Province. The consulate in the southern megacity of Karachi has just been relocated into a new purpose built accommodation.
Buying the Pearl in Peshawar
A senior State Department official confirmed that the US plan for the consulate in Peshawar involves the purchase of the luxury Pearl Continental hotel.
The Pearl Contintental is the city’s only five star hotel, set in its own expansive grounds, with a swimming pool. It’s owned by Pakistani tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani.
Peshawar is an important station for gathering intelligence on the tribal area that surrounds the city on three sides and is a base for Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The area also will be a focus for expanded US aid programs, and the American mission in Peshawar has already expanded from three US diplomats to several dozen.
In all, the administration requested $806 million for diplomatic construction and security in Pakistan.
“For the strong commitment the US is making in the country of Pakistan, we need the necessary platform to fulfill our diplomatic mission,” said Jonathan Blyth of the State Department’s Overseas Buildings Operations bureau. “The embassy is in need of upgrading and expansion to meet our future mission requirements.”
A senior Pakistani official said the expansion has been under discussion for three years. “Will some people exploit it? They will.”
In Kabul, the US government cheap cleveland indians jerseys is negotiating an $87 million purchase of a 30 to 40 acre parcel of land to expand the embassy. The Senate version of the appropriations bill omits all but $10 million of those funds.