Pakistan mulling closing missions in 22 countries
Islamabad: The Pakistan government is reportedly considering plans to shut its missions overseas by one-fourth, apart from cutting down perks and privileges for its diplomats and staff posted abroad.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi has suggested the `austerity` proposal due to the budgetary constraints, The Dawn reports.
According to the report, the five missions identified for closure in the first stage are in Port Louis (Mauritius), Santiago (Chile), Naimey (Niger), Belgrade (Serbia) and Sarajevo (Bosnia) and if the entire proposal is accepted it will reduce Pakistan`s global diplomatic footprint by one-fourth.
The report said that closing its missions in Latin America and Africa would limit the country`s prospect of emerging markets in the regions.
A diplomat said that a consulate in Bandar Abbas would have been critical if Islamabad were to pursue the gas pipeline project with Tehran or develop the North-South trade corridor; however, the government has decided to stall the idea.
A retired diplomat estimated that the government could save 180 million rupees by closing down five missions, while full implementation of the proposal to shut 22 missions could yield savings of up to one billion rupees.
Foreign Office Spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said that a number of proposals are considered to cut the expenditures; however, there is no final decision as yet.
The plan to cut down on perks and privileges has angered the diplomats who think that reduction in their allowances would make it difficult for them to live at foreign stations, the report added.
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