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Zardari’s record breaking travels


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Details of expenditures incurred on Mr Zardari’s 93 foreign trips were also sought, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inexplicably failed to provide that information. –File Photo
Details of expenditures incurred on Mr Zardari’s 93 foreign trips were also sought, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inexplicably failed to provide that information. –File Photo

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari may leave the presidency self-satisfied and “without any regrets” on September 8 but praise and harangue are likely to follow him for long for his five-year record in the highest office of the land.

His Pakistan People’s Party is sure to sing the laurels of the many political “firsts” its leader is recognised for but his haters would not let go any opportunity to rake up his tarnished image of decades past in a shouting match.

A glimpse of what to expect in the coming months was provided during the ongoing session of the National Assembly.

In reply to a question, the PML-N government informed the lower house of parliament that President Zardari went on 93 foreign trips during the past five years – 25 of them to Dubai alone.

Since the question put by the PML-N MNA ,Choudhry Mohammad Shahbaz Babar from Faisalabad was ‘unstarred’, the information went unread, buried in the record kept in the Assembly’s library.

It still stirred the house, and could become handy for any member to make fun of the “record number of trips” the president took.

And the occasion for it is at hand as the debate on the last of President Zardari’s “record six addresses” to the joint session of the parliament, a constitutional requirement, has begun in the National Assembly.

MNA Shahbaz Babar had also sought details of expenditures incurred on Mr Zardari’s 93 foreign trips, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs inexplicably failed to provide that information.

Would it matter to critics, however, that most of the trips Mr Zardari made to Dubai were ‘private’, to visit his children who live there?

Asked to comment on the president’s perceived “unusual interest” in foreign trips, his spokesperson, Senator Farhatullah Babar, said President Zardari undertook them on the invitation of heads of states, reminding them that other presidents in the past had done the same.

“President Zardari going to address the United Nations General Assembly, or visiting other countries on the advice of the sitting government, is nothing unique,” said Senator Babar.

In any case, the PPP has enough to sing the laurels of such achievements as the passage of the far-reaching 18th amendment in the Constitution by consensus under its policy of reconciliation.

President Zardari himself gave up the dictatorial powers that his military predecessors, General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf had written into the 1973 Constitution for the president, with the blessings of the judiciary, and returned all powers back to the parliament.

In the Westminster model of democracy that Pakistan purportedly follows, the ceremonial head of the state rarely visits abroad and only on invitation.

Neighbouring India’s president is rarely seen visiting other countries.

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

Comments (69) Closed

sabeeh omer Aug 28, 2013 10:52am

But the, Zardari was not a ceremonial head of state. His role had always been "controversial." And then why not party, if I don't have to foot the bill? We should learn from neighboring India. In many respects, they demonstrate far greater maturity and responsibility!

Gerry D'Cunha Aug 28, 2013 12:57pm

in pakistan might is power - we should learn lesson from india how their govt. is progressing though they still have to go a long way

Cosmic Lion Aug 28, 2013 01:13pm

"Neighbouring India

Tahir Aug 28, 2013 01:57pm

I am not in favour of these visits, but at least upgrade your standards, upgrade your benchmarks. Why are we always comparing ourselves with India and this perhaps is one of the reasons we have not prospered.

Ali Aug 28, 2013 02:27pm

Well, Zardari has to take care of his multi million dollars worldwide foreign investments, so no place better than Dubai to conduct all transactions in complete privacy.

ABL Aug 28, 2013 03:02pm

@Cosmic Lion: So, lets get a President for Pakistan who is more than 80 years old, to prevent so many foreign travels. The question is: what was achieved from these visits?

L Ahamd Aug 28, 2013 03:02pm

Indian president & prime minister do not own properties in other countries so they have lesser need to travel overseas.

haris Aug 28, 2013 03:20pm

@Cosmic Lion: Very funny Comic Lion how about his predecessors? how many trips did they made during their rein?

arshad Aug 28, 2013 03:22pm

I am sure any government would analyze the need for foreign trips and what he has achieved in these trips for our country.

I am sure you would be interested to know Return on Investment, I give you an example when David Cameron went to China on his very first state visit he stayed in British Embassy so has his team the reason he said our country is going through economic down turn and it is not fair if we stay in hotels. He saved money for his country.

I am sure most of you know that government officials or state heads make foreign trips to boost the country image (I am not sure 25 trips to Dubai have made any big impact on our country's image or did he manage to secure more jobs for Pakistani people or business for Pakistan etc I let you decide).

I am not sure when we are going to be mature enough to say that our party leader has made the mistake and we are going to be more efficient in the future. If you ask any party PPP, PML N/Q, PTI, ANP etc they protect their leaders like they cannot commit sins at all as far as I know only our believed Profits and Pagambers were Pak from sins and no on else.

Love you country not your leaders.

aamir cheema Aug 28, 2013 04:35pm

it is real cheap would be his expenditure on kitchen..toilet..soaps he used...petrol/diesel. It would be equally interesting to know how many trips army chief has made and then compare it to indian, british, sri lankan, burmese military...real cheap stuff not expected from a news paper of your quality and calibre.

ishrat salim Aug 28, 2013 04:53pm

@Cosmic Lion: not a justified is bcz, Indian President does not need to visit just for the sake of visiting but to stay with in the limit of his constitutional duties & responsibilities....if we go with what the Presidential spokesman says, then India being the largest democracy & more economically sound country than Pakistan, the whole world countries should be inviting the President of India, so that they are able to get good business from a billion mouth ( that is what is the population of India ).

Asim Soomro Aug 28, 2013 04:54pm

@DAWN: First we(Nation) choose the Wrong Leader, Later we cry out load for being ditched and pinched almost in every part of our Heart & Soul. Enough said, enough heard, Time to Bear it until last Breath of Earth.

Humble human Aug 28, 2013 04:59pm

@Cosmic Lion: Age has nothing to do with it. All previous Indian presidents have had the same rare appearances abroad.

G.Nabi Aug 28, 2013 05:27pm

Roughly 18 foreign trips every year, 25 ' private' trips to Dubai, 5 trips every year. Did he pay from his pocke?. Always traveled with plan load of entourage, mostly free loaders. No wonder every year we were seeking IMF loan.

babaji Aug 28, 2013 05:29pm

@Cosmic Lion: At least India's CEC or Chairman NAB is not above 80 like in Pakistan. Two of the most importent positions given to incapable and obidient persons controlled by PMLN.

sabeeh omer Aug 28, 2013 05:30pm

@ Cosmic Lion: So what you are trying to say is that Pakistan too should nominate people above seventy to the office of the President (and why not the Prime Minister) to ensure tax payer's money is not wasted on foreign trips that do not yield an iota of good for Pakistan?

Rakesh Sharma Aug 28, 2013 05:54pm

Two errors: "The ceremonial head of the state rarely visits abroad and only on invitation." I guess whether it is PM or President they visit only on invitation. They do not just land and knock on the doors of their counterparts. They you say, "Neighbouring India

Gulzar Aug 28, 2013 06:18pm

Well he is president after all. Even the lowest level employees of our glorious nation milk their perks like there's no tomorrow. People are just jealous.

khanm Aug 28, 2013 06:26pm

for I have heard that The lack of money is the root of all evil, but our president was the richest man of the most poor country in the world. Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.

Sanjay Aug 28, 2013 06:28pm

@Cosmic Lion: You're close - India's president is 77 years. But that's not the reason he travels less. The reason is that his presidential travel budget is (deliberately) fixed very moderately. By the way, most Indian presidents, even younger ones, have not travelled much, for the same reason.

Muhammad A Chaudhry Aug 28, 2013 06:35pm

As head of state in 60 years, The British Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 78 State Visits, to 116 different countries. That's around 4 to 5 countries a year compared to around 19 countries a year by Mr Zardari.

TUFAL KHAN Aug 28, 2013 06:50pm

Damage caused by Zardari to Pakistan will be remembered for times to come.

ali Aug 28, 2013 06:59pm

Zardari screwed up the country as much as possible. He gave up the dictatorial powers only on paper knowing very well that his Prime Ministers were all "yes" men and that they would listen to his dictates and that he is never going to be danger of any kind. Aug 28, 2013 07:10pm

Zardari traveled over 95 times in his 5 years. Question is was he invited to visit the countries. What was the purpose of the visits. Did he write a paper on each of his visits. How many people went with him. What was the cost. Did the country gain from his visits abroad. All these questions need to be asked

Rashid Sultan Aug 28, 2013 07:13pm

this works out to 1.55 trips per month. This equates to 1 foreign trip every 19.6 days in the last 5 years. Add planning, packing, unpacking and attending to other personal and natural needs such as sleep, etc and it leaves just a few days every month for public duties as a ceremonial head of state within the country!

Fahad Aug 28, 2013 07:14pm

Well haters gonna hate :)

khalid sheikh Aug 28, 2013 07:49pm

It was to save as he had the fear of being Nabbed

saeed KHAN Aug 28, 2013 08:29pm


Faran Madeeha Aug 28, 2013 08:34pm

Mr Ghuman is not a journalist. He is the self appointed spokesman of PML (N). He deserves a post in any department of federal government. After all the Prime Minister Sharif has obliged his friends. Mr Sarwar who used to entertain Sharif in UK is Punjab Governor. Mr Mamoon who used to take Burns Road Nehari for Sharif in Karachi jail is now President of Pakistan. Mr Ghuman should be rewared for his service. Faran Madeeha

Syed Ahmed Aug 28, 2013 08:34pm

How much he spent on the foreign trips from the government exchequer and what did he earn for Pakistan

Faran Madeeha Aug 28, 2013 08:38pm

Comment already posted. Perhaps dawn is unlikely to post my genuine comment Faran

Faran Madeeha Aug 28, 2013 08:39pm

@Cosmic Lion: During Zaradri's rule there was no street protest. There was no political prisoners in Jail. The writer of this article is self appointed spokesman for PNL N. Dawn never appointed PROs in the past Faran Madeeha

Khalid baloch Aug 28, 2013 09:08pm

What else can you expect from a low grade person. He did not have any intellect to deal with country affairs, so why not hide in white people land.

Sadiya Aug 28, 2013 09:31pm

The nation has a right to know the amount spent on each visit and the out come of them I.e what goals and objectives were obtained

NMA Aug 28, 2013 09:35pm

Not to mention record breaking earnings.......... glad to know year term after term PPP governments never fail to break records.....

waheed najam Aug 28, 2013 10:46pm

*The state of the economy as it is, defies any rational reason for its president to undertake so many foreign trips. Seems neither the head of state nor others in the power corridor really. Care. What a pity.

marghoobahmedsiddiqui Aug 28, 2013 11:39pm

He is enjoying immunity from every thing. Even if he murders some one he can't be punished. Every one knows he murdered his wife and became President. He plundered 600 Billion Dollars and no one could ask him. Why to question his 93 visits, majority of which were to see his children.

DrTK Aug 28, 2013 11:50pm

I like when we say :"We follow the Westminster style of Democracy......" Ooooooh! Yeah right ha ha ha.....

Sonal Aug 29, 2013 01:24am

Neighbouring India's president is even less audible and intelligible than its PM. It's better he doesn't visit foreign nations!!!

Shehz Aug 29, 2013 02:27am

Senator Mac Harb was ordered to pay back $231,649.07 for inappropriate living and travel expense claims. Another senator, Pamela Wallins, was ordered to pay back $139,000 for inappropriate travel claims. These are examples of a good democracy, accountability.

Pakistan People's money or Pakistan People's Party's monies did Zardari spend? He is answerable, it is our business to know where he traveled and how much did he spend. How much of that spending was appropriate?

Saeed Aug 29, 2013 03:37am

Give the guy break enough bashing . You democracy hater.

JAVED RAHMAN Aug 29, 2013 04:03am

@Asim Soomro: WELL SAID

MSAlvi Aug 29, 2013 06:56am

Why Zardari made so many foreign trips - he had to visit his money.

Anees Aug 29, 2013 07:29am

Re Gul Nabi - Yes he paid from his pocket. But what he thinks is his pocket is, unfortunately, the national exchequer.

A. Khan Aug 29, 2013 07:29am

Aah... there nothing sweeter than a trip at state expense or at a lower level, the burning of "sarkari" petrol.

saeed Aug 29, 2013 08:44am

@aamir cheema: Well said I m surprised our anti democratic Jamay islami thinking media published your comment.

Muhammad Umar Aug 29, 2013 08:52am

I do not understand why we compare with India in every aspects of usual things. Our leaders do not have interest in our country economy to boost it. Our culture is like that whole nation try to get benefit weather it is legal or illegal because we are determined to make own luxury life. We can not stop these things unless our wish is to be limited by heart. We always seek negative points from the nation and do happy for criticizing others whatever information is received in our hands. Whole nation is required to fulfill their responsibilities in honesty and patriotism what I believe.

asim Aug 29, 2013 09:53am

@haris: Does this justifies his trips?

salma Aug 29, 2013 10:19am

Dawn please ensure standards, what kind of criticism is this? as we say in urdu nah sur nah pawoon.

Syed Asif Zafar Aug 29, 2013 10:34am

He done some goog job.Bad for pakistan .we dont have a proper system.Only Zardari and Imran is national leders.

Asif Jeddah

ZAK Aug 29, 2013 12:38pm

Pakistan is a cow. And our politicians are milkmen. So what does a milkman do ??

james Aug 29, 2013 03:32pm

@Gerry D'Cunha: For learning lesson we should look at more better places like south Korea or China.

Mir Aug 29, 2013 04:34pm

Amazing comments. Does it matter how many trips he made? The country is in shambles with widespread corruption, power shortages, terrorist attacks and targeted killings. While people were suffering daily, this man was traveling to other countries, living in plush hotels and enjoying the privilege of power.

malik Aug 29, 2013 06:13pm

Are the future PRESIDENTS going to repeat the same practice - Beerbal,,,,Farhat ullah babar says ''sabqa sadoor bhee isee tara karta rahay --ALLAH (SWt) is qaum par rahm farmaeen. Ameen

I. Khan Aug 29, 2013 08:17pm

I like to know how much tax payer money was spent on Zardari tours in last five years. I also like to know how many foreign trips president of India, Turkey and Iran made in last one year.

goodDeedsLeadTo Aug 29, 2013 08:39pm

The biller should send Zardari the bill & demand payment. He has several billion dollars, offshore family ownerships, which Pakistanis don't have.

niaz ahmed Aug 29, 2013 09:14pm

Well done.It may be a world record.At least it is some acheivement of previous regime,if nothing else.

Taha Lateef Aug 29, 2013 09:14pm

Zardari has done some good and a lot of bad for the country. Let's appreciate him for the good that he has done but that does not mean that we should condone or forget the bad that he has done.

niaz ahmed Aug 29, 2013 09:16pm

may be it is a world record?

iffti Aug 29, 2013 09:34pm

@Saeed: why don't you give us a break, come on

iffti Aug 29, 2013 09:40pm

I am amazed as none of the comments have pointed out to the suitcases that went with him. Just like the briefcases that went to someone else in London. Now we know at least what was in the brief cases. What was in suit cases???? May I ask everyone.

Siyalkotia Aug 29, 2013 10:08pm

@Tahir: I agree. India is too low a country for us to compete with or compare with. We should put ourselves at the level of USA, China, Japan and Germany. After all we are the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

sami Aug 29, 2013 10:08pm

There is some evil in his eyes. Something.....

Abbas Zaidi Aug 29, 2013 10:30pm

Why just highlight the excessive travelling? Why not write a whole book on the corruption which was at an all time high during his term and expose all who were involved and why not demand the chief justice to take notice and initiate an audit or investigation of the whole governmental expenditure and let the reports become public so that the nation can fathom the severity of wretched state of affairs of the economy which the former government led by its tactful president has brought upon our beloved country. There is no way a country like Pakistan can flourish if we keep on electing the same corrupt patriarchs.

Mano Aug 30, 2013 12:10am This is people of Pakistan need to do. Instead of getting emotional ask questions to evaluate the leaders and then pick the right person who is good for the people in his district but overall good for the country.

smart Indian Aug 30, 2013 06:00pm

The business men in India travel to get things accomplished. in Pakistan there is none and the ones that are outside esp. in USA are very confused with their identity, actually they are busy pretending to be Indian.

Agha Ata Aug 30, 2013 07:36pm

Zardari is Zardari is Zardari; he will always do what he has always done!

Nasir Aug 30, 2013 08:34pm

@Siyalkotia: You are so funny

NASAH (USA) Aug 30, 2013 10:19pm

Have 10% will travel.