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Overseas missions set for major overhaul

Published Dec 25, 2012 10:16pm


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Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD, Dec 25: Leadership of the country’s diplomatic missions abroad is set for a major overhaul next year due to completion of government’s tenure and impending retirement of a number of senior Foreign Service officials.

“At least nine career ambassadors serving in missions abroad are set to retire in 2013,” a source said. Add to that about a dozen and a half political ambassadors, who, as per tradition, would stand retired with the change in government.

Another 20 would be replaced as part of the routine rotation of the officers.

Pakistan has about 70 ambassadorial level missions abroad, which implies that almost half of the overseas missions would have new envoys.

Although a number of officers retire every year, what’s particularly interesting this time is that not only the number is on the higher side but also some of the Foreign Service heavyweights would be reaching the age of retirement. Moreover, many of the major capitals abroad would fall vacant due to retirement of political ambassadors serving there when the PPP government completes its tenure in the first part of next year.

The retiring career ambassadors include Khalid Aziz Babar (Iran), Fauzia Sana (The Netherlands), Ishtiaq Andrabi (Norway), Munawer Bhatti (Belgium), Khurshid Anwar (Austria), Haroon Shaukat (Turkey), Zamir Akram (UN, Geneva) and Irfan-ur-Rehman Raja (Greece).

The officer at the headquarters responsible for making all these postings, Mr Ikramullah Mehsud – Additional Secretary Administration – would himself retire next year.

Some of the important capitals where ambassadorial positions would fall vacant due to change of government include Washington, London, Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Muscat, Kiev, Mexico City and Permanent Representative at the UN in New York.

“More reshuffling, more opportunities for young officers,” a career foreign service officer said when asked about the large-scale changes likely to take place next year.

Another said: “One hope the changes create more opportunities for the cadres.”

In 80s Foreign Service officers would get ambassadorial assignments after serving for 17-20 years, but with increasing numbers now going to political appointees, career officers on average become ambassadors after 25 years of service. This has generated immense resentment among the cadres, not just because of the more years of service they have to put in before getting the assignment they longed for but also due to the fact that most of the important stations go to political appointees.Ambassadors proceeding to take up new assignments early next year include Syed Hassan Raza (Qatar), Mr Sarfaraz Khanzada (Sudan), Mr Abrar Hussain (Kuwait), Mr Waheed-ul-Hassan (Morocco), Mr Iftikhar Aziz (Hungary), Mr Qasim Muttaki (Chile), Mr Riaz Bukhari (Uzbekistan), Dr Sohail Khan (Thailand), Mr Shahid Kayani (Malaysia) and Mr Ghalib Iqbal (France). Almost a similar number would be rotated in the second part of next year.

Ambassador Burhan-ul-Islam has been posted back to headquarters from Chile, while Ambassador Tasneem Aslam has proceeded on long leave instead of resigning as she initially planned. Ambassador Aslam was upset over having been posted to Morocco from Italy.

Ambassador Khanzada was prematurely moved out of Qatar due to complaints by the community.


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Comments (6) Closed

observer Dec 26, 2012 11:48am
The whole foreign policy needs to be overhauled. What has our foreign policy achieved over the decades? Orthodox foreign policy has lost its appeal since 1980s. Time to reduce influence of security apparatus and modify foreign affairs department (ministry) in a way that reflects people's aspirations more closely.
Parvez Dec 26, 2012 11:32am
Lets hope merit is the criteria for the upcoming appointments...........if that is asking too much, then merit in at least a majority or the appointments.
akbari Dec 26, 2012 01:47pm
We need some real patriotic diplomats. They should do more for Pakistan in bringing this more in the limelight of the world and do something that the world stops speaking about only terrorism and religious fanatism in Pakistan. In short learn from India, Bangladesh and Siri Lanka and do something like them.
malik nawaz Dec 26, 2012 08:42am
I only hope that for old ones have some achivements for the new one to look upon. All the best
abbastoronto Dec 27, 2012 12:48am
Trade, trade, trade.
MOHAMMAD Dec 27, 2012 03:42am
sincerity is the key, if you want to serve the nation ( A GIFT TO US FROM ALLAH). ALLAH WILL ASK US ALL AS TO WHAT GOOD WE DID FOR OUR NATION.