Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Syed Hussain Tariq on Friday apprised the National Assembly that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) was meeting the expenses of the diplomatic missions serving across the country though 90% of its budget allocation. He was responding to the query during question hour of National Assembly’s 51st session of MNA, Sikandar Ali Rahoupoto of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) on the measures taken by this government to improve the performance and reduce expenses of the diplomatic missions abroad. MNA Rahoupoto on his supplementary question paid tribute to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for bearing expenses of his foreign visits from his own resources. MNA, Wajiha Qamar of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on her supplementary suggested that budgetary deductions should be made to improve performance of the Pakistani embassies. Moreover, she queried about the rate of dollar followed to pay the diplomatic missions by the Ministry. Parliamentary Secretary, Hussain Tariq said the Ministry had taken austerity measures to reduce its expenses whereas it was paying its diplomatic missions in dollars and after depreciation of the currency it had put more burden on the Ministry’s finances. Tariq informed that the Ministry was providing funds in dollars on the official rate for conversion of grants prevailing before the budget. MNA, Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur of PPPP on his supplementary questioned that on the Ministry’s plan to sale its high-end properties and establishments of missions to save precious national exchequer as the country’s population and expatriates were rising that demanded more resources. MNA, Shagufta Jumani of PPPP also raised her concern on no embassy building in Republic of Iraq despite the fact that it was a significant place where thousands of Pakistani pilgrims visit the holy places in the brotherly country every year. She sought the Ministry’s intentions on establishing any formal consulate or not as there was no embassy of Pakistan for the past 12 years and at present it was operating on a floor of a hotel. MNA, Saira Bano of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) also put a question pertaining to old Pakistani Embassy building in Washington being allegedly used by the Ambassador and when it was going to be sold as the auction bid was already carried out. The Parliamentary Secretary while responding to the queries said there was only one property being sold in Washington after the interministerial committee (of MoFA, Housing and Finance Ministries) approval. However, he said no property was sold or brought in the past five years by the Ministry. The old embassy building was archaic and incurred huge expenses in lieu off maintenance and taxes that made the property non-feasible for maintenance, he said, adding that the bid was done through the realtor hired for the process and highest bidder got the property. The bid from Washington was received by the Cabinet, he said. Despite the fact that MoFA meets the expenses of its embassies from 90% of its budget but the Embassies also generate funds through visa service and other facilities offered at the embassies and were utilised there to meet their needs, he added. On the issue of no embassy established in Iraq, he said it was a fact that due to disturbed situation in Iraq the embassy was set up in a hotel, whereas the embassy mission staff was positively available to ensure proper facilitation of the zaireen (pilgrims). However, there was a plan to build one and would share details with the House after a fresh question was put up, he added.