Membership opens today: Citizens Club resurrected

ISLAMABAD, Sept 26: Thanks to a change of heart on the part of the Supreme Court, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has salvaged the club complex it built in the F-9 Park that the court had declared an illegal structure in 2010, Dawn was told on Wednesday.“I have received the consent of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan, and have a degree in this regard, that we can open the club to the ordinary citizens,” said CDA chairman Farkhand Iqbal.

CDA would open the membership of the Citizens’ Club to common citizens of Islamabad from Thursday.

In July this year, the CDA bosses started looking for ways to bring the dead club to life, without violating the Supreme Court verdict. Putting the club complex to commercial use meant a lot to the cash-strapped CDA as the 2010 decision of the court had sunk its Rs1.28 billion investment in the club into a black hole.

Initiated by Kamran Lashari, a former CDA chairman, and designed by the renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dada, the club complex boasts a 475-seat auditorium, library, conference halls, swimming pools, restaurants, fitness centres, squash and tennis courts, aerobic area, gymnasium, billiard room, games room, banquet halls and residential rooms for the members.

Membership of the club was proposed to be divided among different classes proportionately – private citizens 62.5 per cent, government officers and parliamentarians 15 per cent, CDA officers 7.5 per cent and diplomats and corporate sector 15 per cent.

But before the fabulous club could open its gates to the elites of Islamabad, the apex court upheld a citizen’s petition that public places like parks could not be used for commercial purposes.

In its 2010 judgment the Supreme Court said: “Admittedly, according to the Master Plan of F-9 Park, no residential building for lodging/boarding of the members of the Citizens’ Club could be constructed without approval of the competent authority and without taking into consideration the requirements of the public park.

“In this view of the matter, the establishment of Citizens’ Club aimed at providing facilities to the elitist class alone was not for the general masses for whom F-9 Park was primarily meant. As such, the same was not permissible.”

However, the incumbent CDA chairman says “every citizen of the capital city has equal right to apply for the membership”.

“This club will work on the lines of Islamabad Club but it will facilitate the ordinary citizens,” chairman Farkhand Iqbal promised.