The process for the sale of a Pakistan embassy property in Washington took a new twist as sources privy to the matter said that the government is considering rebidding for the state-owned building despite already receiving the highest bid.
Pakistani businessman Shahal Khan made the highest bid of $6.8 million to purchase the old chancery building on R Street in northwest Washington DC, it emerged earlier this week.
However, sources said that Khan still awaits a response from the government to finalise the deal. The sources said that the government is avoiding contact with the highest bidder.
In November last year, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had announced that the cabinet had greenlit the proposal of auctioning one of the two buildings in Washington owned by the Pakistan embassy.
She said that in 2010, the then-prime minister approved the renovation of these two buildings. The renovation of one of the buildings was completed but only 60% work could be completed on the other building.
The minister said the US government had revoked the diplomatic status of the building and so far the government had paid $819,000 in taxes. She said after 2019, $1.3 million in tax had been paid on the building without any use.
As the building was not suitable for use due to incomplete renovation and its diplomatic status had ended, the cabinet approved the proposal to auction the building transparently.
She said that in the past, a $4.5 million bid was given, but now a bid of $6.9 million has been given, which was $2.3 million higher than the previous one. If Pakistan did not auction the said building, the United States would itself auction it.
Meanwhile, in December Foreign Office spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch had also confirmed the approval of the sale.
In her weekly presser, spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the building in question was smaller of the two buildings in which the Embassy of Pakistan was situated in the past and had become vacant in 2003 when the embassy moved to the new premises.
She said the sale of the property had become important, as not only was it vacant and in disrepair, but also because the building no longer enjoyed diplomatic status and was subject to local building and taxation regulations.
“The Government of Pakistan has, therefore, decided, after a thorough inter-ministerial process, that the property will be sold in an open bidding process fulfilling all codal and legal formalities,” she explained.