ISLAMABAD - The estimated saving of up to Rs 3.5 billion per annum on rightsizing in Pakistan's foreign missions suggests that the country's global diplomatic presence would drastically shrink.
Sources privy to the development told The Nation on Wednesday that the sub-committee headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Syed Tariq Fatmi to review the performance of Pakistani missions has recommended drastic cut in staff as well as perks and privileges to diplomats posted abroad. The committee constituted by Prime Minister to cut 30 per cent expenditures as part of government's austerity measures would submit its final report by March 2014.
After that this committee would be converted into implementation committee, sources said, adding that as result of its recommendations at least eight missions of Pakistan in various countries would be closed.
Moreover, staff in various other missions would be reduced along with cutting down of perks and privileges allowed to Pakistani diplomats and staff posted abroad.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shortly after assuming his office had constituted a Special Committee under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar to review the performance of officers posted in Pakistani Missions abroad with a view to cut expenditures as part of the austerity drive of the present government without effecting the efficiency and national interest of Pakistan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently has 70 embassies across the world and has identified five missions identified for closure in the first stage including Port Louis (Mauritius), Santiago (Chile), Naimey (Niger), Belgrade (Serbia) and Sarajevo (Bosnia). The Pakistani mission in Ireland has already been closed.
According to the sources allowances for renting houses, health and overseas posting are intended to be reduced by 30 per cent. Similarly, the education subsidy for children of diplomats is proposed to be cut to 80pc. Moreover, missions in Europe, America and Australia are likely to be declared as 'non-family stations' for the non-diplomatic staff.