At least 19 employees of Pakistan’s foreign ministry posted in missions in countries like the US, UK and France have slipped away in the last five years, a media report said today.
Whether these employees went on to seek asylum, became illegal immigrants or betrayed their country remain unknown to the authorities in Pakistan because none of them maintained any contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after their disappearance, the Express Tribune reported.
These runaway officials were posted in the US, the UK, Canada, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Mexico from where they skipped, and their whereabouts are not yet known to the authorities in Pakistan.
The popular destination remains the US where eight of these staffers disappeared followed by the UK with three, and two each in France and Sweden and one each in Canada, Switzerland, Spain and Mexico.
After their disappearance, all of them were served show-cause notices and later declared absconders.
Some of them obtained premature retirement; some were dismissed from service, while others retired compulsorily on disciplinary grounds.
“The cases of three of them are under process,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, submitting the details of action taken against the disappeared officials in parliament on Wednesday.
Currently, some 1,962 employees of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are deputed abroad of which 1,002 have been posted during the last three-and-a-half years or by the incumbent government.
During fiscal year Y2015-16, Pakistan spent Rs 11.7 billion to maintain its missions and employees abroad.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who held the portfolio of foreign minister during the government of Asif Ali Zardari, said this reflects an overall “tendency of the Pakistani nation where everyone prefers to live and work abroad.”
He said the majority of such officials later claim asylum in the host country, citing different reasons.
“Mainly low-grade staffers opt to choose this path,” he was quoted as saying by the daily.
“To stop this practice, the government should look into the reasons and officials should be sent on foreign posting after thorough scrutiny and strict security screening,” Qureshi added.