Foreign Ministry officials feel let down due to PM criticism

Islamabad – Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks about the working of Foreign Office and Pakistani Embassies abroad has created an uproar and disillusionment among the serving and retired officers of the foreign service of Pakistan, calling it unnecessary and unwarranted criticism.

Former Foreign Secretaries Jalil Abbas Jilani, Tehmina Janjua and Salman Bashir, in their separate tweets strongly reacted to the outburst of the Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding the performance of Pakistan Embassies particularly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait.

Jilani who also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Belgium, United States and High Commissioner to Australia, said that foreign service of Pakistan suffers from decades of neglect, political paralysis and resource constraints. “What is needed now is a renewal of diplomatic capacity, resources, appreciation and an effort that balances ambition with growing difficulties at home and abroad.”, he  stated.

 Jalil Abbas Jilani in his tweet said that he wished that the Prime Minister was properly briefed about working of Missions.

Pak diplomats say they need encouragement not reprimands

He said, services like attestation of degrees, marriage certificates, licences etc. are referred to HEC, Interior or provincial governments for verification.

 “You don’t get a timely response. Hence delays, therefore blaming envoys is unfair.” he regretted.

Former Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, who also served as Pakistan’s permanent representative at the UN mission in Geneva said, she was deeply dismayed at what she called the unwarranted criticism of the Foreign Ministry.

She said, while referring to the remarks of the Prime Minister, “There seems to be woefully inadequate understanding of Embassies  consular work, the acute resource constraints, and the role of multiple departments which are not under the control of Ambassadors.”

On the remarks of the Prime Minister that the attitude of the diplomats with a colonial mindset would not be tolerated, she questioned saying, “Officers displaying colonial mindset? Far from it.”

She said, “Only during Covid, officers volunteered to be with the community in Wuhan, Embassies looked after stranded Pakistanis, and distributed food. Systemic issues need to be addressed for quality consular services. Cannot be done through tweets.”

Former Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir while commenting on the speech of the Prime Minister said that PM’s ire and criticism of Foreign Ministry and envoys is misplaced.

He said usual services to the community are essentially in the domain of other departments that handle passports, nicop cards, consular services and attestation etc.

He remarked that diplomatic missions abroad keep their doors open.

He disagreed with the remarks of the PM and claimed that the foreign service and Foreign Office have always delivered. Salman. Bashir said foreign service deserves encouragement and support.

Salman Bashir said, public criticism demoralizes the best and brightest. “Pakistan needs functional institutions. That is where we need to focus. Do set up a task force to come up with positive recommendations.”, the former Foreign Secretary commented.

Prime Minister’s Special Assistant  Shahbaz Gill reacted to Jalil Abbas Jilani’s tweet and commented that he was the witness as a common Pakistani of his (Jalil Abbas Jilani) attitude in the United States as an Ambassador who always thought to be untouchable.

Gill said rude attitude and dealing with Pakistanis with callous attitude is the hallmark of the Pakistani diplomat.

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