By Agha Iqrar Haroon
All is said and done. Sensitive Demarche should have been locked in the secret closet of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs is read by too many and is in the hands of several outside Foreign Office. A large number of PTI parliamentarians claim they read it (this is what they claimed at least). What a new norm of Foreign Affairs Pakistan has adopted. But there are some questions in the serious diplomatic circles.
Whatever would be the outcome of the Parliamentary Committee investigation, in this case, the damage is already done with no chance of reversal unless exceptional punishment would not be set for those who are responsible for this mess-up
Did Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan discuss pointers with former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi or did just Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan write/type/telegraph and sent it through the proper channel to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs? If Ambassador discussed pointers directly with Foreign Minister, had he (former Foreign Minister) dictated him to include something special in the Observational part of the Demarche? Did Foreign Minister dictate what should have been the rhythm and feeling radiated by the Demarche? Did Ambassador accept dictation and include what was desired by a politician? There are many questions that must be answered because this Demarche created a sense of mistrust among several institutions and between Pakistan and the United States and I am sure every sane diplomat on earth would be extra conscious while talking and discussing anything with any person of Foreign Affairs service of Pakistan.
There is a dire need for overhauling of entire Foreign Office and Foreign Service and this can be started by a categorical announcement that “No reappointment after retirement”
Whatever would be the outcome of the Parliamentary Committee investigation, in this case, the damage is already done with no chance of reversal unless exceptional punishment would not be set for those who are responsible for this mess-up. I understand Establishment Code, rules (written and unwritten) and I know politicians (ministers, state ministers, advisors etc) cannot manipulate the system if the Secretary of the Department is professional, confident, goes by the books, brave enough to call a spade a spade and who has no inclination for further appointment or extension after retirement. No politician can temper the system because State is the responsibility of the permanent State— the Civil and Military Bureaucracy. And permanent State does not allow anybody to play with rules.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a decade is working quite differently. Former Secretary Tehmina Janjua was reappointed after her retirement like her predecessor Aizaz Ch who was also reappointed after retirement. This desire for reappointment after retirement has wedlock between the politicians and Foreign Service officers. Every Secretary can now consider having “excellent” relations with politicians for ensuring his/her reappointment after retirement. Appointments abroad are another story to discuss in detail but one can say today’s Foreign Affairs Service is like any other service where political intervention has become a rule for managing an excellent career. Many of my friends in Foreign Service always reject my viewpoint that politician-career officer wedlock could be dangerous for the country and are of the view they have the right to design their career with the active help of politicians. I remember a number of Career diplomats had been in contact with former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi years before he came into the Office of the Foreign Minister. Secrecy could be compromised when career officers who sit among classified files have cordial regular meetings with politicians having no official linkage with Foreign Affairs. Alas, there had been a system to check such activities in past but this system has already gone somewhere with windy weather. In simple words, there is a dire need for overhauling of the entire Foreign Office and Foreign Service and this can be started by a categorical announcement that “No reappointment after retirement”.
I believe that this mess that the entire country is facing was originally generated by Foreign Office and there is a dire need to thoroughly investigate what happened and who is/are responsible for Demarche-Gate —- This Gate must be fixed once and for all.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.