Petition urging govt not to dispose of Roosevelt Hotel filed before IHC

ISLAMABAD - A writ petition was Thursday filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to direct the government not to dispose of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and to continue its hotel business.

An architect Muhammad Tahir moved the petition through his counsel Tariq Asad Advocate and cited federation of Pakistan through Federal Secretary for the Aviation Division, Prime Minister of Pakistan through his Principal Secretary, Federal Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice, Federal Secretary Ministry of Information and Technology and Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs as respondents.

Tahir stated in his petition that a national building in New York US, Roosevelt Hotel is being disposed of and being converted into offices and apartments etc in clandestine manner by the present government inflicting huge loss to the public treasury on the one hand and injuring the feelings of Pakistanis settled in US particularly and the people of Pakistan generally.

He mentioned that the National Assembly had decided against the sale of the hotel in its previous meeting, saying the hotel should be run via joint ventures and PIA Investment Limited Managing Director Najeeb Sami told that it had been decided to give Roosevelt Hotel on lease on a long-term basis. He disclosed that the American president ‘is still showing interest in Roosevelt.’

Counsel Tariq Asad said that in October 2020, it was announced that the hotel would be permanently closed due to continued financial losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the final day of operation will be October 31, 2020.

According to the petition, historic Roosevelt Hotel owned by the Pakistan International Airlines has caught the eye of United States President Donald Trump, who wants to buy the luxury property located in Manhattan Borough of New York.

It added that in a briefing to the National Assembly Committee on Privatisation, PIA officials said that the US had shown interest in the purchase of the hotel some time ago and was still interested in buying the hotel.

Petition further said that according to the PIA official, the hotel had been generating profits for almost a century, but the last year was bad for business as it incurred a loss of $1.5 million. He said that the PIA was not in a condition to run the hotel on its own, adding that it should be replaced with offices and hotels.

It maintained that currently, the PIA owns 99 per cent shares in the hotel, while the other one per cent is owned by Saudis. The offer from Trump is not surprising at all, as the billionaire-turned-president already owns seven luxury hotels and several resorts and clubs in a number of major cities across the US.

The petitioner prayed to the court that the respondent No. 1 (Secretary Aviation) may be directed to place the whole record of the Roosevelt Hotel including its accounts, its profits earned till the closure of the hotel in chronological order, the reasons of its closure, the people involved in the transactions and the meetings and minutes of the Cabinet about Roosevelt Hotel and all other documents conducive to it.

He also requested the court to direct the respondents not to dispose of the Roosevelt Hotel and to continue the Hotel business after renovation of the movables, furniture and other paraphernalia, if need be, but be restrained not to demolish and change the nature of business which may, otherwise, cost huge expenditure and may take long time to extend the new business.

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