Aggressive Diplomacy?

Posted on October 17, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Foreign Relations, Politics
14 Comments
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Adil Najam

Since the issue has been raised a number of times in our comments section, I was intrigued by a news agency report published in The Daily Times (16 October, 2006) stating: “Expenses on foreign visits by the two leaders were comparatively low until 2004, but such spending has seen a phenomenal increase since.”

… Musharraf and the three prime ministers who served under him made 61 official foreign visits. These visits had cost taxpayers more than a billion rupees by December 2004, and in the later part of fiscal year-2005-06, these visits cost almost the same sum that was spent between October 1999 and December 2004. Foreign Ministry sources said that Musharraf made 41 official visits and toured at least 71 countries between June 2000 and December 2004, costing taxpayers more than Rs 658 million. The three prime ministers went on 20 foreign visits between November 2002 and January 2005, touring 34 countries. Of the 20 visits, Aziz’s trips cost the exchequer almost Rs 352 million.

Although details of countries visited between July 2005 and June 2006 are not available, spending on delegations led by the prime minister during this fiscal year was almost Rs 900 million; documents showed a budgeted sum of Rs 759.1 million plus an additional sum of Rs 150 million. The president’s visits during the same fiscal year cost the exchequer the budgeted figure (Rs 200 million) plus a supplementary grant of Rs 100 million. Information provided by the Foreign Ministry on pre-2005 visits showed that the US was the country toured the most by Musharraf: nine times in four and a half years.

Of course a proper cost-benefit analysis would require some estimation of the tangible and intangible benefits of these visits. One should also acknowledge that foreign visits by Heads of State and Government are an important component of international diplomacy. Unfortunately, however, over the last many years (and not just in this government) the bloated entourage sizes have become a vehicle of political payoffs through junkets rather than authentic diplomatic missions. One wonders, therefore, at what point does ‘aggressive diplomacy’ become too aggressive? Or, at least, too costly?

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14 responses to “Aggressive Diplomacy?”

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  2. al quran says:

    interesting historical information,

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