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ISLAMABAD: While officials are reluctant to share details of the expenditures of Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf’s Ajmer trip, his boarding a Pakistan Air Force plane suggests the cost has been borne by Pakistani taxpayers.
A 29-member entourage, including the premier and his family, departed for the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer on a special aircraft.
The Times of India reported a 40 member entourage, including the crew, was on board.
Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan was unavailable for comments. Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa did not respond to phone calls and messages.
“The return airfare from Islamabad to New Delhi to Jaipur and back is over Rs100,000 per person,” said Khawaja Zafar, the director of United Travel Agency in Islamabad.
Had PM Ashraf been making the trip like an ordinary citizen, he would have ended up paying at least Rs3m on account of travel charges in addition to other costs.
The cost of staying in a five-star hotel either in Jaipur or Agra runs into tens of thousands of rupees. A modest room in a five-star hotel costs at least $200 per night, which would bring the cost of accommodation close to Rs1m.
“It will immediately be difficult to quantify the financial impact of the premier’s private visit to India, but one thing is evident that the visit is part of a financial hari-kari going on since Ashraf assumed the office of prime minister,” said renowned economist Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, who is also Dean of the Business School of National University of Science and Technology. internews