LAHORE – At a time when the US is persistently saying it will withdraw troops from the war-ravaged Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the American footprint in Pakistan seems set to register further expansion.

To meet the requirements of this post-withdrawal US strategy in the region, the requisite infrastructure is being expanded to house the increased flow of personnel and equipment to the frontline terror war ally.

The US embassy in Islamabad, which (to quote the Washington Post) already houses the largest CIA contingent in the world, is being expanded without approval of Pakistan’s foreign ministry or input from the intelligence agencies. The Capital Development Authority, it is said, has given the embassy people a go-ahead on its own. More than horizontal, it is the vertical dimension that has become a cause of concern to the relevant authorities - due to security ramifications.

The CDA, knowledgeable sources say, has failed to take cognisance of the security threats posed by the proposed height of the US embassy building  which having nine levels enables the US snoopers to overlook most of the ministries and government offices’ buildings, including the Parliament House, the Presidency and the PM Secretariat. The building plans, if allowed to go unchecked, will enable hoisting of surveillance devices and the electronic monitoring of important government offices and functionaries.

According to sources, the CDA’s green signal, without meeting the procedural formalities and taking other government institutions along, amounts to a serious breech in the security perimeters defined for the diplomatic enclave in the capital. If not thwarted, the embassy expansion plan might turn into a strategic intelligence blunder of a permanent nature.

Observers say the US plans to increase clandestine presence in Pakistan and expand its drone attacks capability. It is said the embassy expansion aims at accommodating greater influx of technical assets, undeclared CIA operatives and contractors like Raymond Davis to pursue CIA-led operations in Pakistan. It is in the same context that the US has been relentlessly lobbying for expanding infrastructure at Khalid Aviation Base, setting up of consulates in Multan and Quetta, and acquiring land/accommodation facilities in major cities across the country.

It is learnt that Americans have already acquired more than 400 houses in Islamabad, where their agents, contractors and Marines have been living. In some of these houses, sources say, even ammunition is being kept.

Americans are also trying to shift their consulate in Lahore to Johar Town, where they want to purchase a huge plot. However, the Foreign Office and intelligence agencies are not willing to allow the shifting of the consulate, presently located very close to the Governor’s House.