Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had lashed out at Foreign Service officials over their non-serious attitude during a televised address last week, has taken a U-turn now and praised the Foreign Office and Pakistani missions abroad for “doing excellent job”.
After backlash by the foreign service officials, the PM admitted that his remarks against the envoys should not have gone live. “Our embassies and foreign office are doing an excellent job as far as diplomacy is concerned. They are doing a great job to highlight Kashmir and other issues,” he said while taking questions from the public on live TV.
Last Wednesday, the PM had expressed his annoyance over an “indifferent attitude” of Pakistani embassies towards issues faced by overseas Pakistanis, particularly in the Gulf states.
“Feedback that I have received from Saudi Arabia showed the staff is not working. The staff in Kuwait takes bribes instead of guiding people and an official is involved in forging documents… I was shocked to learn all this,” Imran had said in his address to the Pakistani envoys deployed worldwide.
His remarks had prompted a strong response from the foreign service officials who had said that unwarranted criticism on live TV and comparisons with India had left them dishearted.
They had said that the remarks about the foreign missions should not have been televised, adding that the PM should take the corrupt officials to the task instead of labelling the entire the Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) corrupt. “Only some diplomats are corrupt, there was no need to target the entire corps of 540 officers,” they had added.
“Out of 540 officials, 180 are stationed at Islamabad, whereas the others are posted abroad. Pakistan has a total of 113 foreign missions across the world, out of these, the premier named a total of five which had problems; while problems are existent, blaming the entire service is certainly not how things should have been dealt,” the officials had complained.
The diplomats had also expressed concerns over the comparisons with the Indian diplomats. “A general perception of the Pakistani diplomats being aggressive will hit their morale,” they said, adding that the comparison with India was the “worst”.
The officials had claimed that the PM was not properly briefed about the situation in the Pakistani embassies, saying the FPS officers were already underresourced.
Subsequently, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had addressed a gathering of foreign service officials to allay their concerns about the remarks the premier made in public. Qureshi had reassured his commitment and trust to the ministry and diplomats.
He had stated that the comments were not directed towards the entire cadre but instead to the individuals who manipulate the system