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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Encyclopedia on Pakistan’s foreign relations: A much needed initiative

Former Ambassador of Pakistan, Afrasiab Mehdi Hashmi Qureshi, recently released an updated version of his 2013 Encyclopedia on Pakistan's foreign relations with the US, China, and India. As per Mr. Mehdi, the Encyclopedia is not really meant for the students of international politics, today, but it has been compiled for the diplomats of tomorrow!

Former Ambassador of Pakistan, Afrasiab Mehdi Hashmi Qureshi recently released an updated edition of his “Encyclopedia” on Pakistan’s foreign relations. His two-part “Encyclopedia” on Pakistan’s interaction with China, the US, and India, was first published in 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Encompassing over 1400 pages, the first volume of the Encyclopedia provides a complete analysis and overview, while volume two is a compilation and documents, treaties, and dates regarding Pakistan’s relations with China, the US, and India. Starting from 7000 BC, the Encyclopedia covers every event that took place between the countries up till 2013.


Mr. Mehdi served as a Pakistani diplomat in important world capitals including Washington DC, New Delhi, Vienna, and Beijing. Therefore, the Encyclopedia provides an expert’s account of Pakistan’s foreign relations.

Read more: Why Pakistan needs both US & China to secure its interests

He also served as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh from 2011 to 2014, and as High Commissioner to New Zealand from 2016 to 2017.

Apart from the Encyclopedia on Pakistan’s foreign relations, Mr. Mehdi authored a book published in 2015 titled, ‘Ancient and Contemporary Pakistan.’ He has also written on other subjects including the US Foreign Service, Theology, and Face-Reading. He even wrote a book on the Holy Prophet.


The evolution of encyclopedias

Interestingly, Mr. Mehdi’s Encyclopedia is also available in the digital form which makes it far easier to access.

Previously, encyclopedias used to be a set of big bulky books on a particular subject. However, like everything that changed with digitization, encyclopedias changed too. These days, encyclopedias increasingly comprise online search engines.

Read more: Russia to setup ‘Great Russian Encyclopedia’ to compete with US-based Wikipedia

Currently, Britannica is the most popular encyclopedia and is trusted by 4,755 universities worldwide. Even Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale consider it a reliable source of information.

Mr. Mehdi’s Encyclopedia is a remarkable feat as currently there aren’t many initiatives like this in Pakistan, especially on foreign relations. Therefore, with such a detailed publication on Pakistan’s foreign relations, a precedent can be set to introduce more similar works on different subjects within the country.

Read more: Why Pakistan’s research sector needs urgent attention

The start of a new phase

With regards to the Encylopedia, Mr. Mehdi thinks the world is entering a new phase, which is unknown in human history.

“The men of knowledge in major religions know all this too well,” Mr. Mehdi said.

According to him, the Encyclopedia is not really meant for the students of international politics, today, but it has been compiled for the diplomats of tomorrow.

Needless to say, the Encyclopedia is a much-needed initiative!