Articles of the year 2005

The Diplomatic Art
Published on March 03rd, 2005

It seems that the Min.of Commerce and the Foreign office have between them caused very serious damage to Pakistan in the newly emerging post WTO scenario.

The Ambassador of Germany while addressing members of the ESU pointed out that the post of Ambassador to Brussels was empty for 18 months. The Ministry of Commerce had been made aware by the Exporters of the impending danger, but remained blissfully inactive. This has resulted in the placement of an embargo on our Textiles to the EU with disastrous effects. It seems the FO was informed but, whereas files in the Sectt move slowly, the FO has its own pace and is not about to be pushed by anyone. Their sense of self importance goes back to the days of Mr.Bhutto who as Foreign Minister thought himself to be at par with the Europeans. Being proud of your Nation status is one thing , but when tinged with arrogance the consequences can be disastrous. Diplomacy has over the centuries been finely honed into an art form. The very connotation of the word now means gentle subtle ways to achieve your aims without ruffling feathers and without causing unpleasantness. When Kruschev pounded his desk at the UN with his shoe he achieved a landmark in bad manners, our own Mr. Bhutto tearing up his papers and storming out of the UN was also dramatic, though not quite as bad. Both these acts are way up on the list of don'ts in the diplomatic world. We Pakistanis are a warm and gentle people, arrogance is unlike us, and in our history, Agha Shahi, Agha Hilaly, Gen Raza, were the very epitome of the seasoned diplomats. Highly respected and regarded by members of the diplomatic Corps wherever they served. They put a gentle moderate face of Pakistan forward to the world. This is the goodwill that is in danger of being eroded by the actions of the FO.

The FO has also chosen to ignore the fact that today the EU is the largest single trading block and has to be given more than due importance. While our diplomats may jostle for postings to London and Washington, creating a perception that the EU is not on the preferred list of assignments.. Does not Islamabad realize that a bureaucrat scorned is the most dangerous being on the planet? Brussels is the heart of the EU bureaucracy, and the damage control required by the New Ambassador to appease his colleagues and to establish his bonafides if he is to get any meaningful work done within the EU will take some doing. Pakistan already has many adversaries/competitors in the cutthroat World of trade circles and we need to ensure that our Diplomatic and Commercial Officers work together. It seems that a trade agreement was formally signed on our President's visit to Germany last year, and this has still not been ratified by our FO. Surely a year is too long for such an important document, and it does indeed send the wrong signal to the German Govt. Exactly the message we should be trying to avoid. We should get our priorities in their right order, and while our Prime Minister tells us that we are on the economic upturn we should not for a moment think that all is well with us. We are very far from being out of the woods. Our President and PM's trips abroad to try and sell Pakistan as an Investment destination , are useless if the memorandums so negotiated --by the President –no less, sit on some Babu's desk in Islamabad without being brought to function. This delay could be damaging, for it tells our foreign friends quite clearly that our Govt is not interested, or that there is a serious flaw in our priorities. Either way the result is damaging to our Govt and to the way we Govern. Diplomacy and Commerce are interconnected,--- bad diplomacy is causing us commercial damage.