ISLAMABAD The mystery of why US personnel were being constantly caught entering into the sensitive area of Lahore Cantonment and thereby getting caught by the Military Police, has finally been resolved. However, in the process some serious questions have arisen. In 2007, under the Musharraf regime, Americans moved into Sarwar Colony, located behind CSD Cantt just off Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Road. This gated colony contains around 200-250 houses and they are owned by retired or serving generals of Pakistan Army. The Americans have been comfortable ensconced here in a few rented houses since 2007 in what is a highly sensitive location. So question number one: Why were the Americans given permission to locate themselves in this area and who gave the permission? Their activities really caught on only recently when they acquired Houses 87 and 88 (see pictures), ostensibly for the US embassy staff relocated from Peshawar to Lahore The rents paid for these houses are also far higher than the average for the Colony which is around Rs 150,000 maximum. The Americans are paying around Rs 320,000 for each house per month. Towards the end of the last year and the start of this year, the Americans intercepted at the Cantt bridge several times were all those coming to this location. However, these Americans refused to tell Military Police officials what their destination was inside Lahore Cantt. So question number two is: Why, if the Americans had rented these houses genuinely for residential accommodation? Linked to this is question three: How come the Military Police were not in on this vital piece of information? Why were they being kept in the dark? When these houses were rented, in the first three months high security measures were taken for them -grilling, the glass was all changed probably to bullet proof, and infrared security devices were installed with a lighting system. Then, four months ago, big container trailers entered the colony (which is restricted) about seven or eight in number, and they were off loaded into the houses in the presence of some unidentified private American security guards equipped with M4s. The offloaded stuff was professionally packed in layers of plastic and wood. After the offloading, the security of the premises was given to Elite Force Punjab and Wackenhut private security guards. The covert usage of these buildings became apparent because anyone seen coming too close to the properties was mistreated and threatened. Children playing in the park right in front of these two houses often threw balls inside the porches of these two houses. Usually Americans come out swearing. Once, children reported that a growling and angry American came out and flattened the ball before returning it to them. Some of the Pakistani guards outside the two houses told residents in the neighbourhood that the Americans were transporting and installing hi-tech equipment in the houses. At least one resident in the neighbourhood reports that some of the guards took photographs of some of this equipment and showed them to the residents. One of the residents who saw the pictures reports that a US citizen was watching the guard from inside the house and came out, snatched the mobile phone and threatened the resident not to contact the guards again or come near the house. But the real issue and core question is: Why the Americans are being allowed to use houses in this sensitive area of Lahore cantonment when there now exists a decision of the Government that foreigners cannot even enter the cantonment areas without prior permission? To find out how the local residents are taking to their American neighbours, TheNation sent its reporter to the Colony and discovered a terrorised Pakistani community right in the heart of their own country. His account speaks for itself.