Often times, it is the most grandiose gestures, made with good intentions, which prove the biggest blunders. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI)’s government’s plans to turn the Prime Minister House into a university, while well-intentioned, seems like it might be included on that list.

According to the PTI narrative, the move to demolish grand government houses is to remove the last effects of the colonial legacy- where the divide between the governors and the people was as huge as the buildings they built. By opening the PM house to the public, PTI means to bridge the gap between the people and the government, and progress further into its austerity scheme.

Austerity is all well and good but there are certain realities that the government will have to face. The plan to turn the buildings into museums and hotels seems like an utterly unfeasible and inefficient suggestion, one where thousands of complications and security questions one would have to be taken in consideration. The PM house is located in the Blue Area of Islamabad, near other high-security area s like the Parliament and the Supreme Court. Opening the PM house to the public would expose these integral state institutions to high risks of security and interference.

Consideration must be paid to the fact that these buildings were not just built as a symbol of power- they are built specifically to serve government functions. Shifting of bureaucracy from one spot to another, especially with such worrying speed, is not realistic or desirable - there are many risks associated with continuing parliamentary functions in unsecured locations, which could be viewed upon by the public through the next door neighbour’s building. 

Moreover, it does not even reap the economic benefits that PTI complained were being deprived of by maintenance of the PM house. Ensuring the extra security if the government house was turned into a hotel or university, and added maintenance of the unprofitable venture would take away any revenue that the government could have made on closing the PM house. Couple that with the fact that demand and sale paradigms show that there is small possibility of selling the PM house to become a hotel at a profitable price- especially with the Marriot five minutes away.

Though the symbolism is appreciable, it is time for PTI to move forward from such populist gestures, and facilitate connection to the public, and saving of the budget in more feasible, practical ways.