Have Political appointments proper place in Foreign Service?

Dr. Hamida Rajput

Like each of their predecessors, President Zardari and PM Gilani are being charged with the appointment of their cronies to represent Pakistan as ambassadors.

This issue is as old as the country, though the contemporary challenge relates as much to popular skepticism about the huge amounts of money in politics as it does to the practice of appointing non-career and inexperienced citizens to these diplomatic jobs.

Recently for the first time in the history of foreign service of Pakistan,officers raised their voice and went to the court against the appointment of DMG officer as ambassador of Pakistan to Paris.however,it is ironical to note that none of them find it prudent to include other persons enjoying the perks and damaging the cause of country at state funds.the noted cronies appointed on the political basis are ambassador in UAE,UK,New York,Washington,Brunei,iran and Yemen .As sane citizen of Pakistan,I would have included all the appointees whose qualification is nothing more than the friend or party loyalist.The Zardari Gilani and kayani troika are getting their cronies appointed on prized postings but foreign office gurus don’t fell itr fit to raise voice against it.in England a new post of minister was created to accommodate one Kayani on diplomatic seat.It is neither pointed out in the press nor included in the case against Jehanzeb khan.why it was person specific,why not general against all pigmies out to grab the posts and do nothing but to damage relations during their hybernation period. My perspective is that the debate should have been multi dimensional. It must listen to all concerned and persons should go through a very thorough vetting process.

The argument in favor of career diplomats is that they have extensive multicultural experience and language skills, they know the art of diplomacy, and they understand the functions of a complex embassy environment. The best career officers also have mastered the challenge of representing U.S. administrations that have shifted policy positions, sometimes rather dramatically.

Political appointees, on the other hand, are reflections of the changing political scene. They have been in the trenches with the new regime during long campaigns or late night mehfils, a democratic process that never fails to capture the attention of our foreign friends. They also reflect the pluralism of our society, in most cases the high standards of professions as diverse as business, the law, academia or science must be tapped to serve but merit not affiliation should decide the appointments..

The vetting process must be extensive. It includes an IB investigation and foreign office panel should interview them to evaluate and explore every public utterance of the nominee.

Then the senate foreign relations committee should put the candidates through more rigorous questions designed to determine political vulnerability. The majority party in the confirmation process should try to know whether the other party has the evidence to embarrass the government over the appointment.

The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee be given the power to decide whether to allow a nomination to proceed to a hearing and a vote.

When a nominee emerges through this process as a Senate confirmed ambassador, it must then be frustrating to read that somehow one’s appointment is tainted because of legitimate and legal participation in the political process.

At present we are experiencing large share of duds, people who are all ready to embarrass the country. I think of the ambassador to Yemen a few weeks back, a former professor who was selected in part because he is best at sycophancy by PM Gilani. It might have been better if no one in Yemen would have noticed him.

Here is the ambassador who routinely fell asleep while talking, the victim of a strong appetite for free alcohol. These are exceptions, but the damage done far outlives the tenure of these sad cases. He is representing Islamic Republic with half naked wife in receptions and hotel lobbies in this conservative Muslim country.

To further impair the relations,he has been coming late to the embassy,discouraging his number to to work.He has been living in the hotel Sheraton on state expenditure since his arrival,taking his wife and young daughters to show ignorant people of sanaa the enlightened moderation every day.While sitting in the office neither he does nor he asks others to work.It is pertinent here to point out here that since last six years there was political ambassadors,he virtually kept embassy out of diplomatic business.it was considered that Pakistan has closed embassy.When he left in last august the officer incharge who was from OMG kept his tradition alive.in may 2009,a officer from foreign service took over as CDA.He was looking like Taliban’s and extremist but in few days he made the Embassy alive in all fields.He arranged community dinner on 11th June a huge gathering at embassy.A fund raising function was arranged on 25th june.Pakistan School Sanaa celebrated its annual function with minister education presiding.The School was great concern for all pakistanis and yemeni parents in sanaa.the embassy has remained aloof and former principal has made it government school.this man took pain of reviewing syllabus,making it at par with international schools. He established computer lab, language lab, website and renovation of school at war footing. it was all done within six weeks of his arrival. He worked very hard to meet traders, government functionaries, awakened TDAP, BOI and ministry of commerce. He met governors, ministers and leading business people. it has made us for the first time proud of our embassy because news was almost every day on the government TV. People were talking about Pakistan . It is not the end of story; he has kept community involved in all activities to attract importers to Pakistani products. He visited prisoners in all towns of Yemen . He met lawyers, judge’s ands law ministry officials just in three months of his tenure.

Visiting but he brought four ministers in two months. He went further and got approval from minister higher education for graduate classes in evening. He got plots from governors of Taiz and Aden . The first medical delegation of Yemen visited Pakistan in Ramzan and second was about to leave in late October. Pakistani ministers of trade and industry and education were invited by their Yemeni counterparts. You would be surprised that how could I know all facts, for your kind information all was published in local newspapers. The most interesting was the 14th august celebrations, which were held first time in our twenty years at such high scale in the Embassy.Yemeni graduates of Pakistani universities were invited on Iftaar dinner,journalists and business people were invited to listen to the potential of Pakistan in all fields.Iftaar was also arranged for all community and Chan Raat including Eid Millan where we all participated due to this officer.The arrogance of lady ambassador was felt by all ladies in all functions.

But alas! A political crony took over in mid September and all activities were suddenly stopped. He started reversing all his revolutionary decisions and only enjoying free dinners at the houses of influential Pakistanis, whose children study in American school. He is appointing his wife as headmistress as she was teacher in beacon house. He has dismantled the system of autonomy and accountability of teachers. He has kept school closed on the advice of incompetent teachers who did harm the school in past whereas all other private schools are open. Top of all the open door policy of Foreign office officer has been abrogated. The only good thing for this good old professor is his glamorous lady, who is seen like Indian ladies in all functions. We are really ashamed of his actions and behaviors.

You are kindly requested to give this piece of writing due place in your live discussion. if you want to disclose my name, I don’t mind, but embassy would surely try to punish me. I am ready to face it for the sake of my beloved country. Please wake up the rulers Yemen is one of the crucial markets where we can grab market if aggressive work is done. The good work has been stopped by this political crony in the interest of country.

 

Sanaa, Yemen

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