Editors’ note: The following is a disturbing news report. We would like to know the purpose of such trips by its ambassador-at-large and the benefits that Pakistan has received in return. If Mr Klasra’s story is verified and if it is proven that it is a case of nepotism, then Shah Mahmood Qureshi must be asked to return this money to the exchequer from his personal pocket which was so ruthlessly spent on his personal friend’s foreign trips. (AN)
‘Squandering’ taxpayers’ money: Ambassador-at-large undertakes 30 foreign trips in two years – by Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: An ambassador-at-large Nasir Ali Khan has set a new record of foreign trips as he has undertaken as many as 30 tours of 25 countries in a matter of 24 months.
The Islamabad-based gentleman, who is an optician by profession, is known to be a close friend of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Khan spent a total of 156 days out of the country, almost every third night since becoming an ambassador-at-large in 2008.
Out of these trips, His Excellency, the ambassador, spent 45 days in the US alone. On one trip to the US, he stayed there for 18 days, a record of long stay by any government official – president, prime minister or even the foreign minister.
Another ambassador-at-large, Khalid Ahmed almost matched the performance of Khan as he spent 135 days out of Pakistan during the last two years. Both the gentlemen spent a total of Rs15 million on their foreign trips in these two years.
Khan’s only qualification for the job was that he used to be a class fellow of Foreign Minister Qureshi at an elitist college in Lahore. Their friendship seems to have cost the poor taxpayers heavily.
The countries Khan visited during the last two years included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan, France, Uganda, Sri Lanka, India, Afghanistan, the UK, Italy, Germany, Iran, Czech Republic, Russia, Holland, Turkey, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Manama, the UAE, Belgium and Denmark.
The official documents available with The Express Tribune reveal that the second ambassador-at-large, Khalid Ahmed, visited 12 countries and the third, Zia Isphani, visited only one country – Bangladesh.
The details of foreign trips by ambassadors-at-large were placed in the National Assembly during the question hour on Monday. The question was asked by MNA Nighat Parveen. However, the official documents did not give any reason for these foreign trips or the objectives achieved.
Foreign Minister Qureshi, in his written reply to the house, said that during the last two years, three ambassadors-at-large had made 43 trips to different countries. These ambassadors-at-large were Nasir Ali Khan, Zia Isphani and Khalid Ahmad. Khan visited 30 countries followed by Ahmed, with 13 trips and Zia, with only one.
Source: The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2010.