National Assembly of Pakistan. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan embassy in Washington leads in terms of annual expenditures among all 121 foreign missions which the country maintains throughout the world, the National Assembly was informed on Thursday.

In reply to a question by Mr Muhammad Ali Khan, the lower house of the parliament came to know that during 2009-2010, the Pakistan embassy in Washington spent Rs775.172 million.

A written answer submitted by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar further said the embassy had consumed Rs 474 million till March this year. Complete data on expenditures for 2010-2011 have yet to be collected.

Besides the embassy in Washington, the foreign ministry has a healthy presence in a number of other American cities as well.

In Chicago, the government spent Rs38 million in 2009-2010 and Rs39 million up to March this year. The expenditure at Houston was Rs39 million in 2009-2010 and Rs26 million up to March 2011, for Los Angeles the amounts were Rs74 million and Rs59 million, for New York (consul general's office) Rs122 million and Rs 90 million New York, Rs270 million in 2009-2010 and Rs229 million till March 2011.

These figures show that despite Pakistan's stop-start relationship with the United States, the Foreign Office has a substantial presence in that country. And their annual expenditures prove that the country's diplomats in the US have busy lives.

An official of the Foreign Office defended the heavy presence in the US, saying the large Pakistani community benefited from it.

On the other hand, the Pakistan embassy in China has spent Rs107 million only during 2009-2010 and Rs80 million up to March this year Assembly.

Other foreign missions of the country which every year consume a significant amount of their annual expenditures include: Abu Dhabi Rs100 million in 2009-2010; Berlin Rs175 million; Dhaka Rs114 million, Dubai, Rs123 million, Geneva Rs244 million, Jeddah Rs138 million, Kabul Rs156 million, London Rs281 million, Moscow, Rs148 million, New Delhi, Rs237 million, Paris, Rs109 million, Singapore, Rs104 million, Tehran, Rs98 million, and Tokyo Rs99 million.

CRITERIA: In reply to a question about the criteria for establishing a mission abroad, the foreign minister said Islamabad “interacted with all countries that it recognised.” The minister further said resident missions were maintained in states depending on their political and economic significance as well as requirements of the expatriate community.

The prime minister is the competent authority to appoint ambassadors from among officers of the Foreign office of BS-20 and above depending upon their seniority and suitability for posting under consideration.

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