We have yet to hear about any activity from new United States’ ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome, who arrived in Islamabad last week. We only know that Ambassador Donald Blome is a career diplomat with the US foreign service and holds the rank of Minister-Counselor. He lands in Islamabad at a time where the US has no immediate concerns or frantic diplomatic shuttles to Kabul.
“I am thrilled to be in Pakistan and I look forward to exploring this beautiful country and acquainting myself with its people and its culture,” Ambassador Donald Blome said after landing in Islamabad.
“Most importantly, in this 75th year of US-Pakistan relations, I will continue to build on the strong relationship between our countries.”
Thank you, dear ambassador, for great wishes and commitments. That’s what diplomacy is about.
An ambassador’s job is to transform diplomatic efforts into meaningful actions to strengthen connections between the people of the host country and the diplomat’s country.
Donald Blome has to fill the vacuum that occurred in the wake of the four-year absence of a US ambassador in Islamabad. Donald Blome’s predecessor, Ambassador David Hale, left Islamabad for Washington four years ago after completing his three-year term in Islamabad.
In recent times, several diplomats have taken to social media projecting their social work in and around Islamabad thus winning hearts, and a massive following of the Pakistanis. The US diplomats have lots of stuff to show to the people, which otherwise goes unnoticed. The United States Agency for International Development has undertaken several public welfare projects, especially for women, children, government departments and minorities, across the country. Their projection, and outcome is hardly projected through active media and social media campaigns. At any given time, US-funded activities by the United States Education Foundation-Pakistan and Pakistan-US Alumni Network are ongoing in all parts of the country. These activities are by the people of Pakistan and for the people of Pakistan.
The communication office staff of the US embassy can take a leaf from the work and optics of a German diplomat in Islamabad, who literally broke the social media. Former ambassador Martin Kobler would reach out the Pakistanis through his direct messages to the people about sanitation, education, tourism, and so on.
No doubt, unlike Martin Kobler, the US embassy officials are hardly allowed to mingle with the public by their security staff. But times are changing and hopefully, soon Donald Blome will be able to have a desi breakfast on a Lahore street, and lunch at Saddar area of Karachi. In the peak summer, the best hangout for Donald Blome can be Multan to have a mango party.
I was about to finish the piece suggesting Donald Blome to visit Swat, Kaghan and Hunza this summer too, when social media started discussing the leaked audio clip of a conversation between property tycoon Malik Riaz and power tycoon Asif Ali Zardari. The short conversation states that Imran Khan wants Malik Riaz to convince Asif Zardari to thwart the impending no-trust motion against him. “It’s impossible now,” says Asif Zardari in the clip.
It implies that Imran Khan tried to reach out to Asif Zardai when, unsure of the institutions’ support, Imran Khan looked up to Asif Zardari to save his, what we generally say, kursi.
Asif Zardari, being the principled architect of the motion, felt it impossible to ditch the opposition of that time.
There are lessons for Imran Khan and those who are swimming in the ocean of power: one, timing is important in politics, and two, always be flexible and open communication channels with your friends and adversaries.