ISLAMABAD - The Committee to Review Performance of Pakistani Missions abroad on Wednesday decided to close down certain non-productive activities in different foreign missions and withdraw the relevant human resource from there.

These missions include ministries of foreign affairs, information, overseas, commerce, interior and national food security. The move will result in saving Rs 3.5 billion annually.

The Committee to Review the Performance of Pakistani Missions abroad met in the office of the finance minister here on Wednesday morning under the chairmanship of Senator Ishaq Dar. The committee also directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others to submit the performance report of incumbent officers presently working on various positions in Pakistan missions for consideration of the committee within the next 30 days. The finance minister said that after obtaining the approval of the prime minister on the final recommendations/decisions of the committee, the implementation process through Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministries would take place within 60 days and the committee would have an oversight over the whole process.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid, Minister of State for Commerce Khurram Dastagir, Minister of State for Information Technology Ms Anusha Rehman and special assistants to Prime Minister, Tariq Fatmi and Khawaja Zaheer, attended the meeting along with senior civil and defence officials. The committee discussed the recommendations made by the sub-committee constituted for the purpose under the chairmanship of Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatmi and assisted by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Khawaja Zaheer, and the cabinet and finance secretaries. The sub-committee was directed to consult the ministries concerned whose officers were posted in various Pakistani Missions abroad before finalising its recommendations.

It may be recalled that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a special committee under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar to review the performance of the officers posted in Pakistani Missions abroad with a view to cut expenditures as part of the austerity drive of the government without affecting efficiency and national interest of Pakistan. The finance minister in his remarks appreciated the work of the sub-committee headed by Tariq Fatemi for rightsizing Pakistani missions.

The finance minister said the government was pursuing a policy of austerity and had taken various measures, including abolition of secret funds of 32 ministries, divisions, departments, autonomous bodies as well as the discretionary funds of the prime minister and federal ministers besides slashing drastically the entitlement of the government officers nominated on the board of directors of public sector enterprises who were drawing millions of rupees annually.