Federal govt places major restrictions on ministers, officials

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government on Monday chalked out a new foreign travel policy, placing restrictions on ministers and government officials travelling abroad, ARY News reported.

According to details, the Cabinet Division issued the foreign travel policy to regulate overseas visits while emphasising austerity measures and accountability.

Sources told ARY News that the policy imposes a ban on simultaneous foreign trips by ministers and secretaries, except under unavoidable circumstances. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce have been exempted from this ban.

The officials were encouraged to opt for teleconferencing over in-person foreign visits whenever possible, with a strict prohibition on staying in five-star accommodations.

Approval for official visits by federal ministers, advisors, and others must be sought from the prime minister s office, according to the policy.

Delegations comprising three officers and Grade 20 officers will be allowed foreign travel by the minister concerned, with permission for larger delegations sought from the prime minister through the ministries of finance and foreign affairs.

Moreover, official and semi-official relations with Taiwan can be conducted under the ‘One China Policy’, while special permission has been made mandatory for contacts with Korea. Permission has to be sought from the interior and foreign ministries for visiting India.

On the other hand. hosting of foreign companies has been discouraged, while experts and consultants will be authorised to visit only during bilateral discussions, the policy stated.

The policy also outlined the travel entitlements; the president and chief justice eligible for first-class travel facilities, while the PM, senate chairman, speaker of the national assembly, foreign minister, and federal ministers are entitled to business class accommodations.

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