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Pakistan court issues notice to Sharif government on his foreign tours

Wednesday, May 25, 2016,11:54 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Lahore |The Nawaz Sharif government has been issued a notice by a Pakistani court here on a petition challenging the prime minister on his more than 70 foreign tours which has cost the exchequer over 600 million rupees.

The Lahore High Court yesterday issued the notice on a plea by barrister Javed Iqbal Jafrey, who pleaded that Sharif extravagantly spent public money on his foreign tours, and on his and family’s projection in the media.

Jafrey alleged that the prime minister was spending public money to get medical treatment in London at a time when there are no medicines at hospitals and the country was mired in foreign debts.

It is unfortunate that the prime minister fails to establish state-of-art hospitals in the country where he could go for his own medical treatment, he said, adding that taxpayers’ money was been used by the premier and his family for their lavish foreign tours.

Sharif is currently in London, along with family members, for medical check-up. But speculation is rife that he has gone there to meet former president Asif Ali Zardari for advice on the PanamaPapers documents leak in which the names of his two children has figured for having off-shore companies.

Petitioner Jafrey also told the court that millions was being spent on media advertisements to promote the prime minister and his political party (PML-N). Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah sought a reply from the government tomorrow, overruling LHC registrar’s objection to the petition.

In February, the National Assembly was told that 638 million rupees had been spent on Sharif’s foreign trips. He has lived at least every fifth day of his tenure out of the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had informed the National Assembly that Sharif has spent a total of 185 days abroad in 65 foreign tours with accompanying staff of 631 officers between June 2013 and February 2016.

After he came to power in June 2013, Sharif has often visited abroad, despite criticism by Opposition and media. According to the data provided in the Assembly, Sharif visited Britain 17 times, spending about two months in the UK, of which 32 days were listed as official stay while 24 were listed as transits.

During each transit, Sharif has stopped for at least a couple of days which cost the exchequer 137.8 million rupees. After the UK, Sharif spent most of his time in the US, visiting the country for 18 days. He has visited Saudi Arabia five times, followed by China, which he visited four times. Turkey was Sharif’s another favoured destination which he visited at least once every year.

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