ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq is giving globetrotting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a run for his money, having been on 15 trips abroad since taking office — just four shy of the PM’s tally of 20 foreign tours. As per official records, even though Mr Sadiq started his international sojourns later than the PM — in October 2013 — he is racking up the miles and catching up to his party head quite quickly.The National Assembly Secretariat refused to disclose the amount of money spent on his visits, only confirming that he had indeed undertaken 15 trips abroad between Oct 2013 and Jan 2015. Mr Sadiq has been in the news of late due to the controversy surrounding his election from Lahore’s hotly contested NA-122 constituency. A ruling party official, speaking off the record, told Dawn that PML-N leaders were known for their propensity to hop on planes whenever they felt like it and the speaker was continuing the same trend.
Earlier this month, the Senate was informed that from the time he took office up to Dec 2014, the PM had made 20 official trips abroad that cost the national exchequer around Rs300 million. The first of these trips was the PM’s official visit to China in July 2013.
Opposition parties both inside and outside the parliament house have regularly vilified prime minister for his excessive travelling. PTI leader Imran Khan has famously railed against the PM for ‘fleeing’ the country when his government is going through a rough patch. PM Sharif stayed abroad for one month out of the PML-N’s first five months in government.
Ayaz Sadiq has been on 15 trips abroad since assuming office, only four less than the PM
Speaker Ayaz Sadiq’s official trips started with his participation in 129th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 7-9, 2013. His other international official engagements included; a visit of the Pakistan parliamentary delegation to Saudi Arabia from November 12-16 2013; visit to Colombo from December 19-20 2013; 7th conference of Saarc speakers and parliamentarians in the Maldives from December 20-24 2013; the 130th IPU Conference held in Geneva from March 16-20 2014; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation headed by speaker to Russia from May 20-24 2014; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation to Tajikistan from May 24-29 2014; visit of Public Accounts Committee delegation to London from July 7-11 2014; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation to Bahrain from September 20-25 2014; 60th CPA conference held in Cameroon from October 5-10 2014; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation to Spain from November 2-5 2014; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation to Cuba from November 6 -10 2014; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation to Kuwait from December 15-17 2014; 10th Session of PUIC conference in Istanbul from January 17-22 2015; visit of Pakistan parliamentary delegation to China from January 24-31 2015.
A retired official told Dawn that upon closer inspection, one notices that the speaker could have skipped or sent somebody else in his stead to represent the country at most of these events, but he always preferred to lead the delegations. He particularly questioned why the speaker led the Public Accounts Committee delegation to London instead of committee chairman, Syed Khursheed Shah.