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Islamabad: God bless Imran Khan whose just one decision to live in a smaller, simpler residence and not in the official Prime Minister (PM) House will save the huge amount of Rs1.85 billion spent annually on the Prime Minister House. He has also vowed to ensure that his ministers and provincial chief ministers, where his party is in power, also follow principles austerity.
According to most of the Pakistanis abroad, it will also send a positive message to the masses that their prime minister is not wasting public money on a life of luxuries and protocol. Imran Khan has, in a number of interviews and press conferences, made it clear that he will neither stay in the PM House nor enjoy VVIP protocol after assuming office.
Pakistan’s PM House, though a relatively new building inaugurated by the former deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif only two decades ago when he was elected for a second term, is located on the main Constitution Avenue, covering an area of 135 acres, and luxuriously appointed.
The red-brick, heavily guarded building is modelled after the Mughal era palaces that housed royalty. The PM House features five spacious lawns, a fruit orchard, swimming pools, a banquet hall, media and committee rooms. There are also 10 servant quarters, residences for security officers, staff and members of the Public & Works Department and police. Inside the PM House, around 50 protocol officers work in their offices.
The security budget of the complex is around Rs980 million, while Rs700 million are allocated for PM House staff. Similarly, Rs150 million is spent annually on gifts for visiting dignitaries and guests, and Rs15 million on renovation and decoration.
According to the PTI leadership, four universities equalling the area of Pakistan’s top university, Quaid-e-Azam University spread over 35 acres in the capital can be set up in the PM House. Imran Khan has, instead, indicated that he will utilise the PM House land for publicly beneficial purposes, such as education or health.
The PTI leader, in his post-election victory speech, had stated his intention to set up house in the Minister’s Enclave rather than PM House. Later, it was also suggested that he should opt for the Speaker’s House instead of Minister’s Enclave.