Islamabad, Apr 26 (PTI) Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be travelling to Saudi Arabia on a commercial flight at his own expense, the government said on Tuesday, refuting allegations that he is taking with him a big entourage, including his 16 family members, on state expenses.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, responding to allegations by leaders of former premier Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) about the cost of the tour, criticised them for spreading “lies” about prime minister Sharif’s maiden trip to Saudi Arabia. “Contrary to lies being propagated by the PTI, the Prime Minister will be travelling to Saudi Arabia later this week on a commercial flight at his own expense,” the minister tweeted. “Even during his 10 years as CM Punjab during 2008-18, he always travelled commercially and at his own expense,” she added.
The Prime Minister is leaving for Saudi Arabia on his maiden official overseas trip to Saudi Arabia on Thursday where he is scheduled to hold talks with the Saudi leadership. On the sidelines of the visit, Shehbaz would also visit Mecca to perform Umrah pilgrimage. Shehbaz, 70, was sworn in as Pakistan’s 23rd prime minister on April 11 after his predecessor Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
According to reports, around 40 people will accompany the prime minister on the official visit. They included 16 family members, some of them will join the prime minister from the United Kingdom and Dubai. Aurangzeb said that the prime minister was going on a commercial flight and all members of his entourage would be on their own expenses.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry alleged in a statement that the prime minister is carrying a heavy entourage on state expense. Rejecting allegations, the information minister advised Chaudhry not to make “baseless statements against journalists as no media person was going to Saudi Arabia at the state’s expenses.” Aurangzeb went on to say that the “fake news was the hallmark of the former information minister”.
She said that the media used to give prominent coverage to former prime minister Imran Khan when he was in the Opposition, but after coming to power he targeted and victimised them. “Now after being thrown out of power in a disgraceful manner, the PTI leadership is maligning the media,” she said.