ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s 16 foreign visits between July 2013 and September 2014 cost the nation over Rs294 million.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in a written reply to a question informed the Senate on Tuesday that the expenditure statements of the premier’s three visits in September 2014 and one in December were still awaited from the respective missions abroad.

The total number of foreign visits undertaken by the prime minister from July 2013 to December 2014 comes to 20. These visits included three each to United States, China and United Kingdom, two to Turkey and one each to Thailand, Hague, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Germany and Nepal.

Also read: PM undertook 14 foreign visits during 18 months in office

The first official visit was to China which Mr Aziz said provided an opportunity to the prime minister to meet the Chinese leadership for projecting Pakistan’s key interests. An expenditure of Rs26.2 million was incurred on the visit from July 3 to 8, 2013.

Mr Sharif visited Turkey from September 16-18 where he co-chaired a meeting of the Strategic Cooperation Council along with his Turkish counterpart. An amount of Rs11.3 million was spent on the visit.

The prime minister’s week-long visit (September 23-29, 2013) to New York was the most expensive as an amount of Rs91.6 million was spent on it. During the visit, Mr Sharif got an opportunity to shake hands with President Barack Obama at a dinner hosted by the latter for the visiting world leaders on September 24.

Details of expenditures incurred on four of the 20 visits are yet to receive from Pakistani missions abroad, Senate informed

Days after the visit, he again traveled to Washington and held a bilateral meeting with the US president. This was the first official visit of a Pakistani prime minister to Washington in over a decade. The cost of the visit was Rs35 million.

After the October 20-23 US visit, he went to the United Kingdom on October 29-30 to attend world Islamic economic forum’s and Pakistan-Afghanistan-UK trilateral summit. The cost of the visit was Rs30.9 million.

The prime minister visited Colombo, Sri Lanka, from November 14 to 17, 2013, and Bangkok, Thailand, from November 17 to 19. An amount of Rs11.8 million and Rs9.7 million were spent on the two visits respectively.

The minimum expenditure of Rs1.4 million incurred when Mr Sharif undertook a day-long visit to Afghanistan on November 30, 2013. An amount of Rs6.9 million was spent on his visit to Turkey (February 12-15 , 2015), Rs12.9 on a tour to Hague from March 23-25, 2014, Rs11.7 million on a visit to China from April 8 to 11, 2014, and Rs2.5 million on a visit to United Kingdom from April 29 to May 4, 2014.

He visited Iran from May 11-12, 2014, India from May 26-27, 2014 and Tajikistan from June 17-18. An amount of Rs2.8 million, Rs4.3 million and Rs3.7 million were spent on these visits respectively.

The cost of his third visit to the US from September 24-27, 2014, stood at Rs31.7 million. He visited China from November 7-9, 2014, Germany from November 10-12, Nepal from November 25-28 and United Kingdom from December 2-6, 2014. The details of the expenditure of the last four visits are yet to be received from Pakistan’s missions abroad.

The list of foreign tours undertaken by the prime minister does not find a mention of his visits to Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn February 4th , 2015

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