Chief Minister Punjab (Pakistan) Shahbaz Sharif, his cabinet members and politicians accompanying him during foreign visits pay from their own pockets in contrast to those at the hem in the Centre who spend billions of rupees from the public exchequer every year, reveals an official document. It is not the austerity practice recently introduced by Shahbaz Sharif as he also followed this policy during his last stint as Chief Minister, according to the officials who have worked with him.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, on the other hand, has a budgetary allocation of Rs.1.2 billion for foreign trips in the current budgetary allocation alone. According to an estimate of economist Dr. Farrukh Saleem, an amount of Rs. 100 million will be spent on the ongoing one-week visit of the PM to UK where he has only a one-hour official engagement.
According to details furnished to answer a question raised in Punjab Assembly by Zobia Rubab Malik, a PML-Q MPA, about CM’s foreign visits and expenditures incurred, Shahbaz Sharif always paid from his pocket together with his ministers and politicians who accompanied him.
He never claimed a single penny from public exchequer whenever he visited abroad, no matter if he travels on an official invitation or takes personal initiative for some official business. In case of official invitation, the delegation has to afford travel expenditures and the host state only offers lodging and other facilities to the visiting delegation.
Again, this facility is not for the entire entourage but four to five members invited for business talk are qualified to avail this facility. In ongoing PM’s UK visit, the host government is responsible for living arrangements of only six members of delegation and the rest are enjoying at the expense of public exchequer.
As for Shahbaz Sharif-led delegations are concerned, all members have to pay travel, boarding and lodging expenses from their own pocket.Answer to the Punjab Assembly question awaits its turn to be tabled and has been obtained by The News through officials involved in its preparation.
By the time the question was sent to the PA, Shahbaz Sharif had paid as many as seven foreign visits. For them, Chief Minister Secretariat had to pay only Rs. 2.06 million and that was for the travel expenses of CM’s Staff Officer. Even the photographer that accompanied in some visits was paid from CM’s personal pocket.
During the first visit undertaken on November 16, 2008 to China, an eight-member delegation went with him which included Shahbaz Sharif, Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, then Minister (Finance) Ahmad Ali Aulakh, Minister (Agriculture), Khawaja Imran Nazir, MPA, Haroon Khawaja, CM’s Monitoring & Implement Cell, Syed Tahir Raza Naqvi, Secretary Industries, Shahid Mehmood, Director General LDA, Mohy-ud-Din Ahmad Wani, DGPR and Azmat Mehmood, PSO to CM.
The CM and his ministers and MPA paid from their pocket and the bureaucrats’ expenditures were afforded by their respective departments. Azmat Mehmood’s visit was financed (Rs. 152,736) by CM Secretariat.
Second visit to Bahrian-Iran-Dubai was held on June 11, 2009. Other than Shahbaz Sharif, following were member of delegation: Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, Minister (Finance), Sirdar Dost M. Khosa, Minister (LG&CD), Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri, MPA, Saeed Akbar Niwani, MPA, Asma Mamdoot, MPA, Pir Saad Ahsan-ud-Din, Vice Chairman, PBIT, Syed Tahir Raza Naqvi, Secretary Industries, Capt. Retd. Arif Nadeem, Secretary Agriculture, Makhdoom Syed Raza Ali Gillani, MPA, Makhdoom Abdul Qadir Gillani, MPA, Shoaib Bin Aziz, Secretary Information, Ali Sarfraz (additional secretary to CM Secretariat), Azmat Mehmood (PSO to CM) and Zia-ul-Haq, CM’s Personal Attendant.
In addition to personal expenses, CM paid for his personal attendant from his pocket. Provincial ministers and MPAs traveled on personal expenses and bureaucrats were paid by their departments. CM Secretariat paid (Rs. 257473) for Ali Sarfraz and Azmat Mehmood.
Third visit was for London-Turkey starting on January 9, 2010. Other than Shahbaz Sharif, Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Kosa, Senior Advisor, Ashraf Khan Sohna, Minister (Labour), Shuja Khanzada, MPA, Atta-ul-Haq Qasmi, Columnist, Capt. Retd. Arif Nadeem, Secretary Agriculture, Fazal Abbas Maken, Secretary Commerce, Shoaib Bin Aziz, Secretary Information, Haroon Khawaja, Chairman (SIE), Pir Saad Ahsan-ud-Din, CE/Vice Chairman (PBIT) and Azmat Mehmood (PSO to CM). The same policy was applied. CM Secretariat only paid for Azmat Mehmood (Rs. 411368).
Fourth visit was to Abu Dhabi that started on December 11, 2010. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, MNA, and Haroon Khawaja, Chairman (SIE) accompanied Shahbaz Sharif, in addition to Sajid Zafar Dall, his PSO whose travel was financed (Rs. 215,315) by CM Secretariat.
Fifth visit was for Turkey-UK on December 26, 2010. Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, Chairman (LTC), Muhammad Aamir Khan, Chief Photographer, Sajid Zafar Dall (PSO to CM) and Athar Ali Khan (PRO to CM) traveled with him. For Aamir Khan, Shahbaz Sharif paid from pocket. CM Secretariat paid for Sajid (Rs. 355,634) and Ather (Rs. 209,300).
His sixth visit was to Hong Kong-China starting on April 17, 2011. Rana Sanaullah, law minister, Pervaiz Rasheed, Senator, and Saud Majeed, MNA,Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, Chairman (LTC), Hafiz Mian Muhammad Nauman, MPA, Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri, MPA, Ms.Kiran Imran, MPA, Ms.Shamsa Gohar, MPA, Rana Mubashar Iqbal, ex-MPA, Javed Aslam, Chairman P&D, Maj. Retd. Azam Suleman Khan, Secretary C&W, Shoaib Bin Aziz, Press Secretary, Haroon Khawaja, Chairman (SIE), Rizwan Ullah Khan, Vice Chairman (PBIT), Zafar-ud-Din Mahmood, CEO (Pak China Bureau), Saif Hameed, Chairman (Punjab Youth Council) Muhammad Aamir Khan, Chief Photographer (expenses paid by CM) accompanied him in addition to Sajid Zafar Dall (his PSO) only whose expenditures were paid (Rs. 180,706) by the CM Secretariat.
Shahbaz Sharif’s seventh official visit was for UK started on July 3, 2011. Rana Sana Ullah Khan, Minister Law, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, Minister (Education), Kamran Michael, Minister (Finance/Minorities), Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, MNA, Baleegh-ur-Rehman, MNA, Engr.Khurram Dastgir Khan, MNA, Ali Haider Noor Khan Niazi, MPA, Col. Retd. Shuja Khanzada, MPA, Shamsa Gohar, MPA, Nawabzada Syed Shamas Haider, MPA, Shehzadi Umerzadi Tiwana, MPA, Peer Walayat Shah Khagha, MPA, Maiza Hameed, MPA, Ch.Nadeem Khadim, MPA, Tanvir Aslam Malik, MPA, Mian Tariq Mehmood, MPA, Shafqat Mahmood (now in PTI), Javed Aslam, Chairman P&D, Brig.Retd.Anis Ahmad, Chairman (CMMIC), Shoaib Bin Aziz, Press Secretary, Saif Hameed, Chairman (Punjab Youth Council), Saadat Muzaffar, CEO(PBIT), Muhammad Aamir Khan, Chief Photographer (expenses paid by CM) and Sajid Zafar Dall, PSO (expenses paid by CM Secretariat to the tune of Rs. 285039.
By: Umar Cheema