There will be no more fancy government buildings in Pakistan, instead we’ll have fancy museums, parks and hotels.
Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood spoke to the media on Thursday and announced that governor houses and other state-owned buildings will be made into public spaces.
Prime Minister House in Islamabad will be converted into a higher education institution, he announced. The yearly expenditure on PM House is Rs470 million, he said.
Punjab House in Murree is being made into a tourist complex, said Mahmood.
Governor House in Lahore is spread over 87.5 acres of land and has a main house, staff quarters, separate schools for girls and boys and a vocational training institute, he told the media. The schools and vocational training institute will be separated from the main structure and Governor House will be made into a museum and art gallery, announced the minister.
There is also a small zoo in the compound and that and the grounds will be opened up to the public as well, he said. There is already a massive art collection at the official residence.
Another measure to be taken is that the wall of the compound facing Mall Road will be demolished and a fence erected so that people can see what’s inside.
There is a building in Lahore, 90 Sharae Quaid-e-Azam, that used to be a craft museum that was converted into an office by former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, said Mahmood. The cost of maintaining that building was Rs80 million a year.
We will make that into a craft museum again and the hall below it will be used as a convention centre. He said the hall will be rented out to generate income.
Chamba House in Lahore, a smaller historical structure, will be used as the governor’s office. The minister announced that the State Guest House on Mall Road, which is spread across 16.5 acres of land, will be converted into a five-star hotel. It costs Rs5 million to maintain it but it’s rarely used, he said.
In Karachi, Sindh Governor House will be converted into a museum and the grounds will be made into an urban forest. Mahmood said that this decision has been made with the support of the Sindh government and they will be consulting with the provincial government to implement this.
State Guest House in Karachi will be designated as the new Governor House.
Mahmood said that there is a Qasr-e-Naz, or country club, in Karachi that is being used as a rest hosue by government officers. It is in a prime location, located near the Pearl Continental and Metropole, and has 30 suites, along with VIP blocks, he said.
This residence costs Rs12.5 million to maintain, he explained.
Governor House in Balochistan will also be made into a museum. This is especially exciting news for residents of the province since there are no museums in Balochistan. The museum will focus on Baloch history, said Mahmood.
On the orders of the prime minister, the grounds and park of Balochistan Governor House will be separated to make a women-only park.
In Peshawar, the Governor House will be converted into a museum while the grounds will be made into a botanical garden. The official residence in Nathia Gali will be made into a resort-hotel.
Mahmood said that the rest of the structures, rest houses and other official residences, will be decided about as they go.
In the second phase they will make a decision about Sindh House, Punjab House and other official residences in Islamabad.
Speaking about the timeline for the projects, the minister said that the new university needs a PC-1, but the Governor Houses are ready and can be opened up tomorrow.
The heritage value of the buildings will not be changed, he clarified. The money saved from these properties is about Rs1.15 billion a year, he said, adding that while some money will obviously be spent on the maintenance of these buildings, they will by and large be made into income generating projects.
When asked about the money that needs to be spent converting some of the residences into five-star hotels, Mahmood said an expenditure implementation committee has been formed and will meet every month to discuss these issues. These meetings will be chaired by the prime minister, he added.