Former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani may not take part in any elections till 2017 but his name will be mentioned for his record number of visits abroad. He made 43 official trips during his tenure from March 2008 to June 2012, setting a new record.
Gilani, his cabinet members and other officials visited around three dozen countries to represent Pakistan at international forums, according to the foreign ministry’s reply to a question asked by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Chaudhry Shahbaz Babar in the National Assembly. However, because of his absence in the House, details could not be discussed.
Gilani also made two private visits to London in 2011 when his son was in a hospital and, along with the entourage, he stayed abroad for three months, says the reply. The foreign ministry, however, did not provide details of expenditures incurred.
“These were worthwhile foreign visits – a long term investment,” recalled the former prime minister’s press secretary Akram Shaheedi while talking to The Express Tribune.
Official records state that Gilani has made seven officials visits in 2008 and as many as 33 private and government officials, including then Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, accompanied him.
Gilani visited Germany, United Kingdom, Libya, Sri Lanka, Egypt, China and Davos in 2009. The then foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar was the only cabinet member who went along with the former PM Gilani during his foreign trips.
In 2010, Gilani made nine foreign visits which included tours to the United Kingdom, United States, Nepal, Bhutan, Oman, Belgium, Spain, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Oman.
Raja’s foreign tours
The former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who took the post after Gilani, undertook six visits from July 2012 to December 2012. His visit to Saudi Arabia was more of a family trip. He also went to Afghanistan, China and Kuwait during his short tenure. He also performed Hajj along with more than 33 officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2013.