'Pak paid UK MP 135,000 pounds for promoting its Kashmir case'

The revelation was made yesterday when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament examined an audit report.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, who attended the meeting of the PAC, said the issue could not be discussed before the media present at the venue.

He said the audit report involved the Foreign Ministry's secret fund and should not be taken up at an open forum.

The PAC was informed that 135,000 pounds had been refunded by Galloway, then a member of the British Parliament.

The amount was paid to him from the "Pakistan projection fund" by the Pakistan High Commission in London but it was never credited to the government account.
The audit report said the Foreign Ministry did not provide an official record of the transaction despite repeated reminders.

The PAC has questioned the use of secret funds on several occasions.
Bashir told the panel that an in-camera session could be arranged if PAC members were interested in learning the specifics of secret funds used by the Foreign Ministry in the past.

Yasmin Rehman of the ruling PPP, who was presiding over the PAC meeting, accepted the Foreign Secretary's contention and said that the committee would not have been put the matter on its agenda if it had known about the sensitivity of the issue.

She advised the Foreign Office to inform the PAC in advance about such issues so that in-camera meetings could be held.

During yesterday's meeting, the PAC also took up the sale of the Pakistan Embassy complex in Tokyo at a price far below the market rate, leading to a loss of six billion Japanese yen, and the sale of Pakistan embassy building in Jakarta without mandatory permission from the Foreign Ministry.

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