ISLAMABAD - Unable to bear anymore the ‘burden’ of what they say ‘a symbol of durable and resilient strategic relationship’ between Pakistan and neighbouring China, the federal capital’s civic body is going to rent out the gleaming three-storey Pak-China Friendship Centre located yards away from Inter-Services Intelligence Headquarters, Aabpara.

The Capital Development Authority in response to an advertisement has received highest bid of Rs 3.3 million per month against an 800-seat main auditorium of the Centre. A total of four companies have responded to the advertisement, out of which, a firm Pak-Life filed the highest bid of Rs 111,000 per day, an official of Engineering Wing said. The Centre was handed over to CDA after the devolution of Ministry of Culture in pursuance of landmark 18th Constitutional Amendment. A committee headed by CDA Member Engineering and comprising of CDA Member Finance and Legal Advisor is mandated to oversee the affairs related to renting out the building.

The Authority has recently turned down an offer made by a Chinese firm to run this gigantic facility near scenic Shakarparyan. “The Chinese firm wanted to take over the facility but in return they were paying not even a single penny to CDA,” the official said.

“The CDA has informed the Cabinet Division that the Authority could generate up to Rs 10 million per month by renting out several portions of the Pak-China Friendship Centre and that the terms and conditions mentioned by the Chinese firm to run the facility are not financially viable for the Authority,” the official informed.

Also, the firm wanted the facility on single tender basis and without any competitive bidding that is a violation of PPRA rules. The civic agency has been finding it difficult to run Pak-China Friendship Centre for its high maintenance cost.

“In first-phase, CDA will rent out the main auditorium of the building, in second phase exhibition centre, conference rooms, and banquet halls, while in third and final phase 60 state-of-the-art rooms will be rented out,” CDA Member Engineering Sanaullah Aman said.

Aman said renting out the building is meant for its self-sustainability while the practice would also benefit CDA in terms of handsome revenue.

Inaugurated on December 17, 2010 by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani jointly, the Pak-China Friendship Centre was gifted by the Chinese government to the country after spending around Rs2.5 billion on its construction.

“A symbol of long-lasting ties between the two countries,” as was termed by Wen Jiabao while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the centre, proved a white elephant for the civic agency over the period of time.

The three-storey Pak-China Friendship Centre covers an area of 12 acres. It houses an enormous 800-seat auditorium, exhibition centre, conference rooms, banquet halls, dance and art centre, function areas, 60 five-star residential accommodation with a coffee shop and special dining rooms with a facility of a vast car-parking for 600 vehicles.