Islamabad, December 18 (Express Tribune): Nineteen members of the staff of Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad had vanished in the past five years, the country’s parliament last week.
Whether these employees went on to seek asylum, became illegal immigrants or betrayed their country remain unknown to the authorities in Pakistan.
These runaway officials were posted in the US, the UK, Canada, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Mexico from where they slipped away.
US their popular destination
The popular destination remains the US where eight staffers disappeared followed by the UK with three, two each in France and Sweden and one each in Canada, Switzerland, Spain and Mexico.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who held the portfolio of Foreign Minister during the government of Asif Ali Zardari, said this reflected an overall “tendency of the Pakistani nation where everyone prefers to live and work abroad.” He said the majority of such officials later claim asylum in the host country, citing different reasons.
After their disappearance, all of them were served show-cause notices and later declared absconders.
“The cases of three are under consideration,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, submitting the details of action taken against the disappeared officials in parliament on Wednesday.
Some 1,962 staff abroad
Currently, some 1,962 employees of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are deputed abroad of whom 1,002 have been posted during the last three-and-a-half years or by the incumbent government.
During fiscal year 2015-16, Pakistan spent Rs.11.7 bn (US$ 114.4 million) to maintain its missions and employees abroad.