THIS refers to the picture of our foreign minister while receiving his Russian counterpart at Islamabad airport (April 7). One can clearly see the Russian foreign minister carrying his own umbrella to save himself from rain, while there was an official accompanying our foreign minister carrying an umbrella for him.

Daron Acemoglu in his book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, has stressed that the reason for failure of most nations is their inability to escape the legacy of colonial mindset.

We talk a lot about abolishing the VIP culture, but doing so does not need any legislation or political consensus. The ministers and other functionaries can set the ball rolling on their own. The foreign minister clearly chose not to.

This picture gives the world the message that Pakistan, which is much dependent on foreign aid, has politicians who still enjoy the protocol that is not even enjoyed by the ministers of world powers. Our politicians must get rid of this colonial mindset to show that they really are people’s representatives.

Rashid Abbas
Lahore

(2)

IT was an embarrassing moment that was captured by the media when Russian the visiting foreign minister was received by his Pakistani counterpart at Islamabad airport recently. As it was raining, the visiting dignitary was holding an umbrella in his hands, while the host had a staff doing this job for him.

The entire world must have witnessed this, and the image would not have done Pakistan any favour. The act of our foreign minister was in any case against diplomatic etiquettes and decorum.

I recall watching on TV the arrival of former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at the Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth. Prince Charles’s elder son and his wife received the visitors. It was raining. As soon as Mrs Obama stepped out of the car, Mr Obama held umbrella over her.

The message that was sent to the world at large was that of respect for women and that there was no necessity to seek assistance from staff in matters as trivial as holding an umbrella.

We have seen Prime Minister Imran Khan driving the car himself while receiving visiting dignitaries.

Let us hope the foreign minister will learn a thing or two from the prime minister, if not from the others.

Shahzad Lodhi
Rawalpindi

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021

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