Nepotism, favouritism in ambassador postings raise concerns

Minute Mirror - Subscribe
Minute Mirror - Subscribe

Controversy has erupted over the recent approval of new ambassadors for Pakistan’s diplomatic missions, as allegations of favouritism of a particular party of the ruling coalition have surfaced.

It has been revealed that several senior diplomats were intentionally overlooked for postings, while individuals with close connections to the ruling party were given prominent positions.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reportedly approved the deployment of 19 new ambassadors and one consul general to various countries based on a summary submitted by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

However, sources have disclosed that the selection process was marred by the exclusion of five senior-most diplomats who have experience of serving in those countries and were already promoted to the highest grade or in line for promotion to 22.

Among the controversial appointments, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Berlin, Dr Faisal, has been named the new High Commissioner to the UK, bypassing more experienced candidates. Similarly, Dr Bilal, currently serving as Ambassador in Central Asia, has been appointed as the new Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva a post historically being given to the senior most.

Critics argue that these appointments demonstrate a clear case of nepotism and favouritism, with individuals with political affiliations being prioritized over merit-based considerations. The omission of senior diplomats who have served the country diligently for years has raised concerns about the fairness and transparency of the selection process.

The controversy escalated further when objections were rightly raised regarding former Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood ambassadorship to China, which was subsequently removed from the final list. Similarly, objections were raised against the proposed ambassador to Turkmenistan of Pakistan’s ambassador to Morocco, leading to the removal of both names.

Despite the objections, the remaining ambassadors were approved and are expected to assume their new diplomatic roles in the near future. However, questions regarding the integrity and fairness of the selection process linger, casting a shadow over these appointments and the credibility of Pakistan’s diplomatic corps.

Critics are calling for a thorough investigation into the alleged nepotism and favouritism, emphasizing the importance of meritocracy in diplomatic postings to ensure the country’s best interests are served on the international stage.

According to sources, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has given approval for the appointment of new ambassadors from Pakistan to various countries. The approval was based on a summary sent by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. A total of 19 new ambassadors and one consul general have been approved for deployment.

Dr Faisal, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Berlin, will assume the position of High Commissioner of Pakistan in the UK. Dr Bilal, currently serving as DG in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will become the new Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva. Aisha Ali has been appointed as the new Ambassador to Prague, and Abrar Hussain Khan will take on the role of the new High Commissioner to Kenya. Javed Imrani will serve as the ambassador to Tunisia, Khalid Hussain to Algeria, and Mian Atif Sharif will be the new ambassador to Ethiopia.

Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s permanent representative in Geneva, has approved the ambassador’s posting to Russia. Mudassar Tipu will be posted in Tehran, Zeeshan Ahmed in Iraq, and Sagheb Rauf will assume the role of ambassador in Bahrain. Sayeda Saqlain, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Kenya, will continue in her position, while Shuzab Abbas, the Pakistani Ambassador to Ethiopia, will be posted to Mexico. Shoaib Sarwar will represent Pakistan in Denmark, Naeemullah in Rwanda, Mudassar Chaudhry in Morocco, Ahsan Raza Shah in Malaysia, and Ahmed Maruf as the new ambassador to Bangladesh. Amir Khurram Rathore, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has been appointed as the new ambassador to Indonesia. It has been reported that Ahmed Farooq has been approved as Pakistan’s new ambassador to Saudi Arabia, while Amir Ahmad Atuzai’s appointment as Consul General in Naviyar has also received approval.

Sources have indicated that there were objections to two of the names sent by the Prime Minister’s Office. Former Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood’s recommendation for China was objected to, as well as Hamad Asghar, Pakistan’s ambassador to Morocco, objecting to the recommendation for Turkmenistan. Following these objections, the two names were removed from the summary, and the appointment of the remaining ambassadors was approved. The newly appointed ambassadors will soon assume their diplomatic responsibilities.

However, there have been concerns regarding the selection process and the appointment of inexperienced officials to important and larger missions. Sources said that in the past, there were proposals approved by the highest authorities that stated only senior diplomats should be posted to bigger missions.

The current ministry’s decision to promote inexperienced officials supports the baseline on which the former government of Imran Khan operated. Unfortunately, important aspects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is vital for Pakistan, were neglected during the previous regime. Additionally, relations with the United States reached a low point.

Sources added former foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood faced criticism for his inability to establish positive diplomatic relations through Pakistan’s missions worldwide. With the army chief currently on a significant official visit to China, establishing ideal relations with China through an operational CPEC has become the need of the hour.

“Given these circumstances, it is crucial for the new ambassadors to prioritize strengthening diplomatic ties, particularly with China. The successful implementation of the CPEC and the establishment of positive relations with China should be key priorities for Pakistan’s diplomatic corps,” says the source.