Home News Analysis PM Khan’s stay in Davos sponsored by ‘friends’ gets controversial

PM Khan’s stay in Davos sponsored by ‘friends’ gets controversial

PM Khan's statement regarding his trip to Davos sponsored by friends and businessmen like Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry stirred a debate on Pakistani Twitter. Where PM Khan has set the first instance of any premier's foreign visit funded by individuals, he is found to have violated the oath of PM office in a bid to support his austerity drive, note several commentators.

PM Khan

While PM Khan had captivated the international audience with his eloquent speech at WEF Summit last week, his statement that his trip to Davos was sponsored by friends and businessmen like Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry stirred a debate on Pakistan’s Twitter.

Addressing a ‘Breakfast at Davos’ event jointly organized by Pathfinder Group and Martin Dow Group, Khan admitted that since the “Stay in Davos is very expensive and I don’t want to spend public money on it” so his visit to Davos was sponsored.

In a small video clip shared of PM Khan addressing ‘Breakfast at Davos’, he said the trip to Davos cost $450,000 for a two-night stay for which he could not have burdened the national exchequer of Pakistan therefore, his friends sponsored the visit. He said it is the cheapest tour any Pakistani premier has ever made to Davos.

Khan recalled that his trip to UN Summit with $160,000 was the cheapest compared to the $1.4million expenditure by Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif’s $1.3m and even $800,000 of former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

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He accepted the sponsorship offer for WEF Summit from individuals as a part of his austerity drive, said the press release.

“Saving is part of the prime minister’s ongoing robust drive in which he has also directed that the expenditures upon his upcoming WEF participation be minimized,” said the press release.

Where PM Khan has set the first instance of any premier’s foreign visit funded by individuals, he is found to have violated the oath of PM office in a bid to support his austerity drive, notes several commentators.

Arshad Sharif mentioned that perhaps this use of personal relationships can be described as ‘Corruption by Proxy’ where friends and family of powerful political figures have positioned themselves to serve as conduits or middlemen between those seeking influence and those who possess political power

Several journalists like Khawar Ghumman and Arshad Sharif observed that PM Khan’s visit to WEF Summit 2020 on sponsorship has caused a conflict of interest.

Arshad Sharif shared the images of the oath of PM House that bars premiers to use their interest to influence official conduct or official decisions. He questioned whether with the sponsorship from ‘friends’ Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry PM Khan represented Pakistan at WEF Summit in a personal capacity.

In a relating tweet, Arshad Sharif mentioned that perhaps this use of personal relationships can be described as ‘Corruption by Proxy’ where friends and family of powerful political figures have positioned themselves to serve as conduits or middlemen between those seeking influence and those who possess political power.

Political leader Raza Haroon gave the benefit of the doubt to PM Khan saying he might have used the personal influence for the prosperity of the country.

Social media reactions

However, the statement of PM Khan garnered mixed reactions on social media. Some said that his intentions were clear as at least he did not squander taxpayers money on foreign visits and excusing what he did was as it was for the prosperity of Pakistan. He used his personal influence to strongly put forth the case of Pakistan and Kashmir before the world. Unlike previous premiers, who though traveled on the taxpayer’s money who did not effectively materialize the opportunity to fight the case of Pakistan globally.

Others said that, while PM Khan has good intentions, he should have been mindful of the oath of PM office.

Who are Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry?

Ikram Sehgal is a retired military officer and founder of Pathfinder Group in collaboration with Martin Dow Group who has been working at Davos since 1992 towards projecting a soft image of Pakistan before the world.

Imran Chaudhry is a Dubai-based old friend of Imran Khan’s. He has been in Dubai for 35 years and works in steel, real estate, metals trading, and recycling sector. He also has investments in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and is a well-known philanthropist and donor to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.

When asked about his assistance for PM Khan’s visit to Davos, Imran Chaudhry said, “I am not a politician or into politics but I support Khan for his personality, his honesty and for the pain he has for Pakistan.” Adding that, his association with Khan is 30 years old, since the time he was a cricketer and was building his cancer hospital, Shaukat Khanum.

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