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Diplomat reshuffle: Time for a new system


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According to media sources, a major reshuffle is to take place under the auspices of the PTI led government. Media sources assert that those officials appointed on a “political basis” or have been sticking to their positions for over five years have been issued notices by the government.

The main focus of this new move is bureaucrats as well as diplomats. Additionally, high ranking officials of educational institutions have also been notified of removal. Chief among these was Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema, head of the National Vocational and Technical Train­ing Commission who resigned on Sunday.

A noteworthy point is a Diplomatic corps who are facing a similar reshuffle. Several diplomats in important countries are being called back.

According to sources, the government is giving notices in order for the concerned officials to officially resign. Traditionally, political appointees often leave on their own accord in case of change of government. In case the officials do not resign, action will be taken against them as per rules and regulations.

It is important to note an earlier press conference by the Information Minister Fawad Chaudry, who said that those ambassadors and top officials who were appointed on political grounds would be removed soon.

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“The government has initiated the process to remove three ambassadors and six other top-ranking envoys from different countries,” he said. For example, National Bank of Pakistan president Saeed Ahmed has been removed, as well as Information Secretary Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera.

Similarly, Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan has recently been appointed as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue, Muhammad Suleman Khan as director general of the Intelligence Bureau and Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak as director general of the National Counter Terrorism Authority. Arshad Khan has assumed the office of managing director of Pakistan Television.

Reform is starkly needed not only for the CSS entry but also how performance is measured of our embassies worldwide.

A noteworthy point is a Diplomatic corps who are facing a similar reshuffle. Several diplomats in important countries are being called back. Chief among them is Maleeha Lodhi, who serves as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. While the removal of political appointees is important in itself as it can be seen as a sign of cleansing the system, the move should not stop here.

For years, the state of Pakistan Diplomatic department has been deteriorating steadily due to a number of factors. The gradual quality rot of the CSS exams through which entry is gained to the Foreign Ministry is one of them. Another is the constant political interference in the posting system of the foreign ministry.

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It is pertinent to point out that most of the ambassadors posted to important countries are not career diplomats but are outsiders appointed by previous governments. But perhaps the most contributing factor is the lack of a proper appraisal system of the diplomats.

How the performance of the ambassadors is checked is a mystery for many? Most of the time, embassies tend to show their achievements through the holding of cultural shows and parties. What the impact of these events has for the country, however, is not discussed.

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Perhaps it would be much better if new appointees are given achievable targets. Important among these targets would be an investment target through which Foreign Direct Investment could be gained. Ambassadors and embassies should be given the task of coordinating with trade sectors of their posted countries and aim to achieve a set amount of FDI into Pakistan’s economy.

While the removal of political appointees from ambassadorial positions is a good step as it allows the induction of new people with innovative ideas, it is not an end in itself. Reform is starkly needed not only for the CSS entry but also how performance is measured of our embassies worldwide.

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