ISLAMABAD, Jan 30: Three more retired generals have been made ambassadors taking the number of former military officers serving post-retirement ambassadorial assignments to the highest level in the recent past.
The generals to have been rewarded with plum postings after decades of ‘arduous military service’ include Lt Gen (retd) Ahsan Azhar Hayat, Ambassador-designate to Jordan; Major Gen (retd) Qasim Qureshi, High Commissioner-designate to Sri Lanka; and Major Gen (retd) Ulfat Hussain Shah, High Commissioner-designate to Mauritius.
With the addition of these officers, there are now at least six capitals where Pakistan has ex-servicemen as its envoys. Other three countries are Ukraine, Nigeria and Brunei Darussalam.
The generals are posted as ambassadors out of the 20 per cent quota for political appointees. Almost 40 per cent of the quota for political appointees now stands occupied by the ex-army men.
The latest appointments come amidst a raging controversy at the Foreign Office about induction of regular army officers in the Foreign Service. Some officers are readying to approach courts to end this induction.
Political ambassadorial assignments are controversial at the Foreign Office with career diplomats in private expressing their resentment over non-career envoys being assigned important capitals.
Another angle to the appointment of the three retired generals is that the Foreign Service diplomats lost two more stations to political appointees – Colombo and Amman.
Career diplomats proceeding to take up ambassadorial positions include Mr A.B.K Babar, Ambassador-designate to the Russian Federation; Mr Sajjad Kamran, Ambassador-designate to Sweden; Mr Mohammad Saeed Khan, High Commissioner-designate to Maldives; Mr Riaz H. Bukhari, Ambassador-designate to Uzbekistan; and Syed Abrar Hussain, Ambassador-designate to Kuwait.The newly-appointed ambassadors had their ritual meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday.
The president urged them to take concrete steps to further promote diplomatic, political, economic, trade and commercial ties between Pakistan and their host countries.