Pakistan’s foreign missions face closure over financial shortage

Lack of foreign currency funds leaves diplomats without allowances

ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan’s 120 embassies, high commissioners, and consulates around the world are on the verge of closing due to a lack of foreign currency funds from the foreign of­fice in Islamabad.

According to credible sources, the Ministry of foreign affairs has in­formed Pakistan’s embassies world­wide that, due to a severe financial shortage, it will be unable to pay all additional bonuses and allowances to staff and diplomats.

The finance ministry authoris­es each month, based on a written summary from the foreign office, the salaries and expenses of Paki­stani embassies overseas, which are then approved by the state bank of Pakistan along with the release of US dollars. The Ministry of Finance has paused the process due to a lack of US dollars.

The situation at the Pakistani em­bassy in the capital of the United States, Washington, is more dire, as all additional allowances issued to personnel and diplomats have been seized immediately due to a lack of cash. In all official events held in the embassy, lunch, supper, and high tea would not be offered thereafter.

The embassy has been instructed not to hold any events in hotels; in­stead, events should be held at the embassy’s hall.

The official gasoline allowance of staff and diplomats has been im­mediately revoked, and unneces­sary travel outside of Washington has been limited. Similar limitations have been placed on Pakistan’s dip­lomatic posts in the United King­dom, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Asia and the Pacific and Far East.

Due to the depreciation of the Pa­kistani rupee, official sources in Is­lamabad informed The Nation that the foreign ministry’s yearly budget of 140 million USD has been reduced to 100 million USD.

According to sources, ninety per­cent of the foreign ministry’s bud­get is spent on Pakistan’s missions abroad, which includes the travel of diplomats and staff to attend of­ficial events, salaries, maintenance of missions, health insurances, and expenditures on the foreign vis­its of the Pakistani prime minister and president. The Foreign Office has approached the Ministry of Fi­nance about increasing its budget in rupees, which has also not been re­viewed in the past decade.

According to sources, many for­eign embassies will likely close ow­ing to a lack of cash if the finance ministry does not enhance the for­eign ministry’s budget in the 2023-24 budget as requested.

According to insiders, Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives would be badly impacted in this scenario, which would be a big setback for for­eign policy.

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