Convention Center, once a serene place surrounded by lush green trees, is fast becoming a crowded place owing to a bus-stand of the “diplomatic shuttle service” that has been set up in the center”s parking lot.

In the past, only foreign dignitaries came to the Convention Center when it used to host international and national-level programmes. After the 9/11 incidents in the US and the subsequent threat of terrorism, the government started the special bus shuttle service for embassies to ensure their security.

Security arrangements were more intensified following a suicide attack on a church in the Diplomatic Enclave in 2002. Besides walling off the enclave, the government has banned entry of people without appointment in embassies and made it mandatory for visitors to use the bus service for reaching the embassies.

The bus service drew criticism in the beginning as it lacked facilities like sun-sheds, toilets and even drinking water. With the passage of time, the administration has improved standards and the shuttle service has developed its own culture, different from that of the capital city. Now the bus-stand comes to life early in the morning with a lot of visitors thronging the several stalls, PCOs and tuck shops. The embassy visitors and the hustle and bustle of the bus drivers are the only proof of life in the terminal and as soon as the office timing is over, the place is deserted again.
“Some 500 people visit this place to travel to the Diplomatic Enclave, seeking foreign visas or to get different documents attested from different foreign embassies. In many cases, they also bring their friends and relatives along. They (friends) stay back here, waiting. Resultantly, business activities are being generated here in the shape of small stalls and tuck shops,” said Muhammad Hussain, contractor of the Diplomatic Shuttle Service.

Muhammad Siddique, who came to visit the Spanish Embassy, was a bit satisfied with the improved “infrastructure” but stated that a lot more was still required. “There was nothing here except ticket counters two years ago. Things have improved with the establishment of stalls of basic necessities like foodstuff, PCOs, and waiting sheds,” he said.

He said that as the stand would become a permanent feature of the city in future, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) should develop it properly, ensuring the availability of required facilities in a planned manner.
Source:  Daily Times