CDA yet to compensate owners of land used for iconic ‘Faisal Mosque’


ISLAMABAD: According to sources, Capital Development Authority (CDA) has not yet compensated the owners of 33 acres used for the construction of the iconic ‘Faisal Mosque’, a symbol of the capital, despite the lapse of five decades.

In 1966, the then monarch of Saudi Arabia (SA), King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz visited Islamabad and the idea to build the mosque was conceived.

Sources informed Pakistan Today that the land which was used for the construction of the mosque, a symbol of Pak-Saudi relations, was then owned privately by the citizens. When the government decided to select the place as a venue for the mosque, promises were made to the land owners of better compensation upon which they handed their lands to the authority. But since then, unfortunately, they are running from pillar to post but have not yet been compensated by CDA, even after the passage of 51 years.

In 1960, before the birth of CDA, there were different villages in Islamabad which were later taken into the custody of the civic management by offering a deal of cash compensation for the constructed structures and a plot in a developed sector, depending on the size and location of the land acquired. Most of the affectees have been compensated by the authority, but hundreds are still knocking on the doors of CDA to acquire their rights.

For the construction of a grand mosque in Pakistan, an international competition for the selection of the mosque design was held in 1969 and the design of a Turkish architect, Vedat Dalokay, was selected by a jury appointed by the International Union of Architects (IUA).

The foundation stone was laid by King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz in 1976, but the project was started in 1978 and completed in 1988 in a period of 10 years.

The structural engineers of the mosque were R L Lac Qurix from Paris and S Erdolan from Turkey. The Project Manager was Muhammad Rafique Ahmed while the project was executed by a contractor named M/S National Construction Limited.

The ownership of the mosque is with the CDA but the management rests with the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI). The authority spends millions on the renovation and maintenance of the mosque every year. The budget allocation for the year 2016-17 is Rs 36.88 million.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a time-tested friend of Pakistan. The bilateral relationships between the two countries have a vast scope, covering multiple fields of life. But the history of this cooperation should not be doctored, as it is being done in the case of Faisal Mosque.

According to sources, the mosque was completed in $45 million out of which $28 million was contributed by the government of SA, while $17 million was provided by the Pakistani government in addition to the allocation of 33 acres.

When contacted, the CDA Chief cum Islamabad Mayor Seikh Anser Aziz said that the authority has made new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the compensation of land to the affectees and it is alarming that they have not been compensated even after decades.

“I will look into the matter on Monday and ensure their compensation, as Faisal Mosque is a symbol of Islamabad and Pakistan,” he said.