Fruita, Colorado – April 24, 2020
This blog represents the views of the author. One should not assume or conjecture that the United States Department of State (DoS) holds the same views expressed below. If one feels the need, one can navigate to https://www.state.gov/ to find the views of DoS.
Leslie and I served at Embassy Islamabad from January through November 2015. It was a tough post, but for me at least, it was the best job I held during my entire career with DoS. As a facility manager (FM), this was the only posting at which I felt I was truly impacting the mission at the post. Normally, a facility manager turns on the lights and AC upon arrival, sits in the FM office, peruses Facebook and Home Depot web sites, turns off the lights and AC, and goes home (actually there is a bit more to it than that…maybe I will blog about that in the future).
A portion of my job satisfaction in Islamabad may stem from the fact that while I was there, a massive project was literally changing the face of the embassy. When Leslie and I arrived, the project was about three months away from moving into a new chancery, as well as several other buildings on the “new” side of the embassy compound. It was my privilege to help the coordination of the final project phase and the move to the new spaces.
I knew that once the move-in finished, the “old” side of the embassy compound was ready for multiple machines of destruction to raze the remaining structures. The destruction was necessary to make way for the remainder of the new structures on the compound. With the fully completed embassy compound, Embassy Islamabad will provide diplomatic and consular services well into the 21st century. For those interested, the First Phase Dedication Fact Sheet provides additional information on the project, https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Islamabad.pdf.
With time literally ticking away, I received permission to photograph what I felt to be some of the more iconic parts of the “old” side of the embassy compound. Things that would soon be bulldozed and leveled patches of ground, ready for new buildings to arise.
Built as a brand-new embassy in 1960 when the capital of Pakistan moved to Islamabad, virtually everything I saw on the “old” side was new after the tragic attack of November 21, 1979, on the embassy compound. On that day, numerous protesters overran the compound, setting fire to the buildings. At the end of the afternoon, the human toll was great with the death of four people; U.S. Marine Corporal, Steven Crowley (he was shot); U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer, Bryan Ellis; and two Pakistani staff members, Nazeer Hussain and Sharafat Ahmed.
Several of the men that worked for me while I was at Embassy Islamabad started working with the embassy to rebuild after the attack. Many began as contractors and ultimately hired on fulltime with the embassy. Some of those described to me the reason for some of the discolored bricks on several buildings, the fires of 1979. I found it humbling to have trod some of the same places that were the epicenter of the tragedy.
One of the more somber areas of the “old” compound was the memorial to those who gave their life in Pakistan. Included amongst the 21-plaques are the names of the four noted above as well as David Foy, an FM killed in Karachi, and Ambassador Raphel. The construction crew relocated the memorial to a serene spot on the “new” side of the compound before demolition began.
The “old” side of the compound had a collegial feel due to the aged buildings and the very mature shade trees. It was beautiful, even on those oppressively hot Pakistani summer days. The “new” side of the compound lacked that feel. Surely once the landscaping matures, the “new” side will become softer in appearance.
I hope the reader will enjoy the following photographs of things long past.
I can only assume mongooses and jackals can read. I never saw any on the compound. Now cats, that was a different story. There were many feral cats at the compound.
To deal with the feral cats on the compound, several employees banded together to form a group known as the Cattaches. The group provided medical care for the cats, birth control, and feeding/sleeping stations such as the one below.