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Jan 03, 2014 at 07:32pm IST

Pakistan to shut missions in Chile, Ireland

Pakistan is shutting its missions in Chile and Ireland and will initiate a "rationalisation" of big missions to cut costs.

The government is also making it compulsory for diplomats posted in non-English speaking countries to learn the local language.

The steps were taken after Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to look at the possibility of cutting costs of foreign missions.

Pakistan to shut missions in Chile, Ireland

Pakistan to shut missions in Chile, Ireland

"By consensus, some recommendations were made which the Prime Minister approved. Two missions are being closed in Chile and Ireland," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told a weekly news briefing today.

Apart from these steps, "there will be some rationalisation of big missions" and other related measures.

"For instance, people who are posted in non-English speaking countries will be now required to know the local language so that they are able to communicate with the local business community in case of commercial counsellors and media in case of press counsellors," she said.

Aslam said these processes are underway. "Instructions have been sent out and all ministries and government departments...are already taking steps in accordance with the instructions," she said.

In response to a question, she said a stable Afghanistan will open up economic opportunities for Pakistan vis-a-vis Central Asia.

"Our vision is that 2014 will bring peace and stability in Afghanistan as a result of inclusive elections. As far as the drawdown is concerned, no one knows for now what will be the shape of the drawdown," she said

A lot will depend on the Bilateral Security Agreement and other matters being negotiated by Afghanistan and the US.

"From our side, we will continue to play our part and contribute in whatever way we can to the reconciliation process which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned," Aslam said.

An unstable Afghanistan has repercussions for Pakistan's tribal areas and could bring more Afghan refugees to Pakistan, resulting in a greater burden on the country's scarce resources and infrastructure, she said.

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