Pakistan’s austerity drive: Luxury cars first to get the axe under PM Imran Khan

Kaswar Klasra

Published: Updated:

Coming Monday, Pakistan is set to auction off a fleet of luxury cars from prime minister’s protocol worth millions of dollars.

This is being done on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan who has launched an austerity drive to raise funds for cash-starved nation of 220 million.

Millions of Pakistanis have appreciated the move of the prime minister, who seems to be on a noble mission of transforming his country into Medina-like Islamic welfare state.

Soon after becoming prime minister following elections held this year on July 25, Khan vowed to live a “simple life” in office and take steps to make Pakistan a welfare state.

“We will cut expenditures and protect week and poor of the society,” Khan said in his first ever televised address to the nation as prime minister.

Instead of living in sprawling Prime Minister House, official residence with 524 servants and a fleet of more than 88 luxury cars, Khan moved to a three-bedroom house of his military secretary with two servants.

Luxury vehicles

On his direction, federal government is set to auction surplus luxury vehicles from Prime Minister protocol, on next week on September 17.

According to a circular issued from the office of the Prime Minister, the fleet includes eight BMWs, five sports utility vehicles (SUV), four Mercedes Benz cars including two bullet-proof vehicles, 16 Toyota Corollas, one Lexus SUV and Land Cruisers, four bullet-proof Land Cruiser, one Honda Civic, three Suzuki vehicles and one luxury bus.

All these vehicles, under the use of Prime Minister House for long time, have been on the display for a week now. A large number of people with deep pockets have taken keen interest in buying the vehicles which are all set for auction next week. These vehicles have been protecting Imran’s predecessors from threat of militants.

Helicopters and buffaloes

In second phase of auction government has planned to auction four luxury helicopters have been unused for years, and eight buffaloes.

Fawad Chaudhary, federal Information Minister confirmed to Al Arabiya English on Friday that the government “is all set to auction off luxury vehicle next week”.

Last month, federal government imposed a ban on VIP culture at airport for influential officials, army men and politicians following directives issued from Prime Minister’s office.

“On direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan government has issued directives to make sure no one can misuse public funds. We are abolishing VIP culture,” Chaudhary said.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Imran Khan hinted at shedding off state-owned real estate, buildings worth millions of dollars only to get Pakistan, the only Muslim nuclear state, rid of huge burden of debt.

“ I have just got figures of 90% of state-owned land in KP, Punjab & federal areas & rest houses/official residences built on this land. The figures are startling: 34,459 kanals are rural & 17,035 kanals are urban. Just the urban land with buildings is worth over Rs.300 billion!” Khan tweeted earlier on Monday.

Khan tweets

He went on to say that a country which has to borrow money to pay interest on loans is sitting dead capital worth billions.

“So a country that has to borrow money to pay interest on its loans (burdening our future generations) - & daily interest payment is Rs 5 b - is sitting on huge amounts of dead capital (just 90 percent of urban holdings is worth Rs 300b) in the form of this govt-owned land with buildings,” Khan tweeted.

Khan’s statement (via tweets) came shortly after government launched the austerity drive. Experts believe the austerity drive can yield positive results if implemented properly.

“Khan’s austerity drive can yield excellent results if pursued with devotion,” Muhammad Ishtiaq, Associate professor of Economics at a local university in Islamabad told Al Arabiya English.