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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flooded Pakistan’s ‘Royal’ Minister In New York

 
 

·       'Royal' FM's Fundraiser Costs National Kitty Heavily

·       US$20,000 at NYC hotel to raise funds for flood victims!

·       Options ignored: cheaper hotels, the residences of the Pakistani Consulate

·       Why Amb. Haqqani failed to convince his boss this time to donate the expense to flood victims

·       Upscale hotel because the minister is a 'blue blooded Pakistani politician' or because he's a foreign minister?

 
 

By: Kaswar Klasra | Published: August 25, 2010

The Nation


 

ISLAMABAD – While thousands perished and millions were forced to flee from the floods that swept Pakistan this month, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, who came to New York City with a begging bowl in hand for foreign aid, was spending thousands of dollars per night at cushy five-star hotels in the US.


'Beggars cannot be choosers' evidently is an adage never heard by our honorable leaders. Be it a visit to the flood victims' camps or a trip abroad to collect aid for the badly devastated country of ours by the unprecedented flash floods. Their style and status never appears to change.


To the shock and surprise of the entire nation, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the foreign minister of this unfortunate country spent as many as $20,000 from the national kitty during his stay in a luxury hotel in New York City.

 
 

[This hotel is normally the top choice for those interested in shopping and sightseeing. Here's how one reviewer describes the hotel: "For those travelers who prefer luxurious accommodations in the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the world, the Inter-Continental The Barclay is ideal. The Barclay is just minutes from many of the attractions that make New York City such a vibrant and unique place to visit. Located in midtown Manhattan's East Side, the hotel boasts such famous and beloved neighbors as the exclusive shops of Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Broadway theaters and New York City's bustling business district."]


The total expenditure of Qureshi's visit including the spending on his six-member entourage may be much more.


Interestingly, when UK Prime Minister David Cameron came to NYC to attend a meeting (Qureshi went there to attend the same meeting) recently, he stayed at the British consulate residence. Qureshi proved to be more Royal than the Royal servants of her Majesty!


According to sources, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his delegation of six assistants who were in NYC recently to beg the world for aid, stayed at Barclay Continental Hotel, one of the most expensive hotels of the city, which cost the national kitty thousands of dollars. It is pertinent to mention here that it is the same hotel where President Asif Zardari has been staying as president whenever he is in New York City.


In comparison, Pakistan Air Force  Chief Qamar Suleman forced Ambassador Hussain Haqqani to cancel a lavish dinner in his honor during his recent visit there. Ironically, following the rejection by the Air Chief, Haqqani is said to have spun the rebuff and released a story to the official APP news agency that he himself had cancelled the dinner and donated the expense to flood victims.

 
 

Interestingly, the Foreign Minister's hotel reservation was also managed by the same ambassador, who avoided hurting his own personal relationship with his boss (Foreign Minister) by suggesting the minister save money and stay at the ambassador's residence, or at least at a less expensive hotel.


When contacted, Spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the figures regarding expenditure incurred on Qureshi's stay at the hotel were far less than those mentioned by this correspondent ($20,000).


Such stories are not new for the Pakistanis. The National Assembly was told on April 24, 2008 that President General Pervez Musharraf and his wife had spent Rs1.5 billion from the national kitty on their foreign trips during his five-year tenure.


It was Foreign Minister Qureshi who disclosed that the former president had taken at least 1,325 visitors along with him in 37 trips since February 2003-2008. Musharraf's visit to the USA to attend the book launching ceremony of his autobiography "In the Line of Fire" turned out the most expensive trip, as it cost Rs227 million.

 
 

Likewise, President Asif Zardari and his associates were busy in spending huge money from the national kitty on their stay in luxury hotels abroad, while thousands of people here in Pakistan were facing shortage of food and safe drinking water.

 
 

This report was published by TheNation under title, 'Royal' FM's fundraiser costs the national kitty heavily.

 
 

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Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

 
 

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