PESHAWAR: The Town-III administration in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has issued notices to diplomatic missions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other international organisations functioning in sprawling bungalows in the city’s poshest and safest University Town locality to vacate the residential area in 15 days.
Most of the bungalows in University Town are being used since long as offices by NGOs, different chains of elite schools, hospitals and other organisations, triggering concern among the residents, officials of the Town-III administration said here Saturday.
In this regard, the Peshawar High Court had issued a verdict in favour of the residents who had approached the court against establishment of offices in the residential area.
A total of 120 notices had been issued to all those who had converted residential bungalows into offices of national and international organisations, schools, hospitals, restaurants and other outlets, said Town-III administrator Javed Amjed.
“We have already closed 15 restaurants in University Town for violation of building regulations,” he said, adding action against the remaining offices would be taken in 15 to 20 days after expiry of the deadline.
University Town hosts offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United States Agency for International Development, American Club, Iranian Consulate, International Committee of the Red Cross, British Council and dozens of national and international NGOs.
These offices have been established since long but with the emergence of militancy in the city, administrations of these offices have beefed up security around their workplaces. A few of the roads have also been closed by erecting barricades to avert terror attacks on the offices.
The presence of foreigners, usually escorted by well-equipped guards, has caused unrest among the local dwellers, who have complained that they are under growing stress due to the movement of foreigners. Several times in the past the residents held demonstrations against the presence of offices of international organisations, terming them a threat to the locals.
An official said the provincial government had directed the Town-III administration to issue notices to these offices as the court had already issued a verdict in favour of the locals. “If the locals again approached the court, it could cause embarrassment for the provincial government for not following court directives,” he said.
Town-III administrator Amjed said they had asked the provincial government to establish a ‘diplomatic enclave’ somewhere in Peshawar on the pattern of Islamabad to avoid problems to the locals due to the presence of foreigners. “Now offices of foreigners are scattered in the locality, which need to be in a cluster,” he said.
When asked about the action to be taken against establishment of elite schools in the residential bungalows, he said the administration was a bit flexible towards the schools for the sake of children’s future, but all the educational institutes would be shifted from University Town in summer vacations.