Monday, September 20, 2021

Cash-strapped Pakistan puts Imran Khan’s official residence up for rent

Reeling under the severe financial crunch, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan in Islamabad has been put on the market for rent.

The decision has come in the aftermath of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government declared in August 2019, about its plan to convert the Prime Minister’s house into a state-of-the-art federal educational institution. But the federal government has now dropped the plan and decided to instead rent out the premises located at the Red Zone, Islamabad, to host cultural, fashion, educational among other events as reported by Pakistan’s Samaa TV.

The move is being touted as a step to raise funds for the cash-strapped nation. Further, two committees have been set up to ensure that “discipline and decorum” at the Prime Minister’s official residence are maintained during the events.

After becoming the Prime Minister, Imran Khan had announced that the government of Pakistan doesn’t have enough funds to spend on the public welfare schemes, while some in the country are “living like our colonial masters used to live”. Since then, Imran Khan has been living at his Bani Gala residence and only uses the Prime Minister Office (PMO).

The Education Minister of Pakistan Shafqat Mehmood had then reportedly said that it costs Rs 470 million to maintain the Prime Minister’s official residence in Islamabad.

The auditorium of the Prime Minister’s House comprises two guest wings, and a lawn, which would be rented out to generate money. Additionally, High-level diplomatic functions, international seminars will also take place at the former principal workplace of the Pakistani premier.

A wedding at Prime Minister House

Ironically, the Pakistan PM’s official residence was rented out for the wedding ceremony of Brigadier Waseem Iftikhar Cheema’s daughter in 2019. Interestingly, Prime Minister Imran Khan too had attended the wedding.

In September 2018, the cash-strapped government of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had garnered Rs 23 lakh when it auctioned eight buffaloes kept by his predecessor Nawaz Sharif at the PM House.

Facing huge debts and liabilities, the PTI government had also auctioned 61 luxury cars in an effort to raise money for the country’s cash-strapped economy.

The plummeting economy of Pakistan

Pakistan’s economy has been shrinking by USD 19 billion from the past three years since Imran Khan came to power. When he became the Prime Minister, he took several steps to cut down the government expenses to give respite to the country’s frailing economy. Before that, former finance minister Miftah Ismail remarked that the Imran Khan-led regime was “toying with the economy”, adding that it had increased the loans of the government by Rs 45,000 billion.

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