Terming his participation in the recently held World Economic Forum (WEF) as the “cheapest” official visit, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his trip was sponsored by two of his friends and well-known businessmen Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry.
Addressing the ‘Breakfast at Davos’, an event jointly organised by Pathfinder Group and Martin Dow Group on Thursday, Mr Khan said his trip cost 10 times less than those of the previous leaders, Dawn news said in a report.
He recalled that his trip to the UN General Assembly last November that cost $160,000 was cheaper than the visits of former President Asif Zardari ($1.4 million), former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif ($1.3 million) and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi ($800,000).
Thanking Mr Sehgal, a retired military officer and chairman of the Pathfinder Group, Imran Khan said: “He is instrumental in getting me here. Otherwise, I would not have burdened my government to pay a sum of $450,000 for two nights.”
Reiterating that this was an “austerity programme”, Mr Khan said the government should rely on the over nine million Pakistanis residing overseas.
“The GDP of those nine million overseas Pakistanis in my opinion is almost 50 per cent of Pakistan’s (overall) GDP of 200 million people. So we can use this resource and they can sponsor these things,” he said.
Imran Khan said he had also stopped his ministers from going on junkets, Dawn news reported.
“Whenever they say they want to go somewhere, I immediately cancel the trip until they convince me that it will be productive for the country. I don’t allow them to go anywhere,” he said.
To be able to attend the WEF annual meeting, a person has to be invited – in which case the event is free – or has to be a member of the Forum.
A membership of the WEF costs about $60,000 to $600,000, plus an additional fee needed to acquire an attendance badge, which runs about $27,000 per person to get into the conference.