Save Pakistan’s Foreign Service – Latest News – The Nation

The decision to get Pakistan back on track is as important as getting its priorities straight. Setting priorities becomes even more important if the time available to complete your agenda is limited.
Whether offering an olive branch to India or sending fresh bouquets to China and Saudi Arabia or sending greeting cards to the US and EU, the Foreign policy success of the new Prime Minister will largely depend on the performance of Pakistan’s foreign service. Yes, reference is made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an integral part of government but badly in need of assurances that it really exists in the eyes of policy makers. Not that it was the best service in the world, but the recent treatment of its officials with harsh reprimands and belittling online or the mismanagement at home or the delay in implementing plans for assignment and promotions based on merit and service history or its senior officers reduced to performing probationary duties, not only made a mockery of the once most sought-after service group, but also rendered it nearly ineffective, even to its own eyes.
Imagine a Pakistani Ambassador anywhere in the world attending a routine National Day reception where diplomats from around the world and senior local officials mingle and exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues. Imagine the kind of pressure put on him to explain the details of a cable he never saw or read and had to defend. Imagine the embarrassment when everyone saves him from thinking about being wrongly quoted and then defending a position that we might not have taken. Imagine his fellow diplomats mocking him, asking all sorts of troubling questions. ‘Look at the power of an unverified cable. It actually changed the whole complexion of the national political scene of a country, even the government. Would Pakistan allow its emissaries to communicate more by cable or would it follow SOPs and call them to headquarters to explain these “threats” in person? Worse still, imagine being denied meetings at the host foreign ministry and being asked instead to convey everything that needs to be conveyed, in writing.
The low morale of the Service could also be gauged by the fact that no voice was heard in favor of the poor soul whose name should be mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only envoy in diplomatic history. whose routine message: has become the ultimate argument for staying in power; created a mystery around a bloodless regime change; witnessed the success of the only NTM against the Prime Minister of his country; witnessed the emergence of an opposition-led government in Pakistan for the first time in history; and, effectively divided and polarized an already politically vulnerable nation.
One wonders how this cablegate hullabaloo would have been handled during the tenures of foreign secretaries who ran the foreign office themselves or defended their juniors in such dire circumstances as a solid rock. One feels sorry for the current batch of officers who are required to defend themselves entirely on their own with no cushion between them and the powers that be. It is painful to see a once prestigious institution lose not only its decree, but also the courage to speak out at least on issues directly related to the Service, let alone play its expected leadership role in policy formulation. foreign. Gone are the days of professionalism when leaders relied on assessments made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before tackling political issues. Fortunately, former foreign ministers have been seen making occasional visits to the foreign minister’s office for quick advice. We have also seen ministers of foreign affairs say “no” to the highest ranks, particularly in terms of assignments abroad. Or a dignified foreign minister who resigned instead of compromising his integrity and professional ethics.
The seemingly divided and politically polarized nation needs immediate proactive measures not only on the economic front but also in the area of ​​foreign policy. The assurances of the army chief and his commanders to ensure the internal and external “security” of the country must encourage Prime Minister Sharif to take bold but wise measures to save the sad national situation. The nation no longer needs promises. We must act. The announced relief package, economic reforms and the decision to settle with the world should be seen as the first step in ridding the country of the “wonderland” created by aimless bombast.
Likewise, the battered and distraught Pakistani Foreign Service needs immediate surgery and proper treatment, enabling it to rise again to play its part in promoting the national interest of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sharif may wish to address the Foreign Service Brotherhood, including all Ambassadors posted abroad; give them due respect; allay their fears of being victims of “ghosts”, ensure meritocracy and fair play in assignments and promotions; ask all ambassadors to make overseas Pakistanis their first priority, the second being to bring investment into Pakistan; and let them work as ambassadors and not as medieval age slaves.
The Prime Minister may wish to demand that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all Ambassadors explain to the world again what Pakistan really stands for.
The PM may also wish to call urgent Board meetings for promotions and request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare merit assignment plans and ensure their timely implementation. Last but not least, the Minister of Foreign Affairs can let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs operate independently of its “policy and constituency constraints”. The Minister of Foreign Affairs must perform his duties as Chief Accountant (PAO) and be authorized to exercise all the powers conferred upon him as Federal Secretary. Perhaps these measures will allow Pakistan’s struggling foreign service to wean off the fan.