Foreign Ministry clarifies report about Fatemi’s audit objection

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 3 (APP): The Foreign Office Friday clarified a news report regarding the settlement of an audit objection by Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs.

A statement from the Foreign Office mentioned a news item in a local English daily and submitted the “facts” to counter the “accusations”.

Giving the details the Foreign Office said Ambassador Tariq Fatemi, while serving as the High Commissioner in Harare, with concurrent accreditation to Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia, had travelled to Namibia on an official duty, alongwith his wife, whose presence was also required on grounds of protocol.

While there, she suffered a serious injury to one of her eyes.

The injury was initially treated in Harare, but when the doctors feared that she might lose her eyesight, she was advised to travel to South Africa, where the medical facilities were much better.

This trip was undertaken after obtaining the Foreign Secretary’s approval as per standard practice. The letter containing the sanction of the President in this regard was sent to the High Commission in Harare on 3rd August 1995, clearly stating that it was issued with the approval of the Finance Division vide their O.M. No. F.7(10)-R.10/94 dated 21st May, 1995.

Moreover, at no stage, was Mr. Tariq Fatemi informed, during his term as the High Commissioner in Harare, or subsequently that an audit objection had later been raised, on this particular case.

It was years later, after Mr. Fatemi had assumed Office of the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, that the Ministry conveyed to him, along with a letter of regret on its failure to inform him earlier, that the Foreign Secretary’s original decision to grant permission of the medical checkup in South Africa, had not been approved by the Finance Ministry (vide letter No. AS (AI&MB)-1/2014 dated 31st March 2014).

Although Mr. Fatemi could have contested this case again, he decided to pay the amount, to set a personal example that as a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, he intended to err on the side of caution, so that no one could raise a finger on his professionalism and integrity, especially with regards to financial matters.

In fact, during Mr. Fatemi’s 35 years career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there was not one single instance where an audit objection conveyed to him, was not settled in time, the statement said.

It is sad as well disappointing that a reputed newspaper decided to give a false and unsubstantiated twist to a perfectly normal and legal procedure of settling an audit issue. Officials of the Government settle their TA and medical bills, as a matter of routine.

Moreover, portraying this as a case of embezzlement, hints at the malicious intent on the part of the reporter, particularly as neither the Office of the SAPM, nor that of the Ministry’s Spokesperson was ever contacted, either on phone or on email, to get clarification.

Since the Daily tried to create a “story” where none existed, the Ministry requests this Newspaper, to kindly give equal space to this clarification as well.