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ISLAMABAD: Diplomats both serving and retired have termed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s telling-off of country’s ambassadors as “inappropriate,” “unjustified” and based on a one-sided view.

In background discussions diplomats stated that the Prime Minister’s first step should have been to seek a response from the mission abroad about specific complaints he received on his portal.

“The Prime Minister, as the chief executive, undoubtedly has the authority to issue directives to foreign missions that must be followed in letter and spirit, but airing the reprimands on television was inappropriate,” they added.

The majority of complaints have been received from the Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 4.1 million Pakistanis [KSA 2.6 million and UAE 1.5 million] – numbers far too high for a medium sized embassy to deal with.

“Issues must be resolved through proper inquiry as was ordered by the prime minister into the Embassy in Riyadh. However we have to look at the limitations of our missions and consulates particularly in Saudi Arabia and UAE where Pakistani working class are facing various problems that are attributable to changing laws sometimes the Pakistani diaspora are the ultimate victims of change in foreign policies of host countries due to geopolitical considerations,” a diplomat said requesting anonymity.

On April 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into the complaints by Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia against Ambassador Raja Ali Ijaz and six other officials of the embassy in Riyadh by recalling all of them to face a high-powered inquiry committee.

Former foreign secretary and Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani reacted to the Prime Minister’s address stating that sometimes it takes a lot of time for documents to be returned to any embassy or Ministry Of Foreign Affairs prior to fulfilling other formalities from other departments.

“I think it would be inappropriate to shift the blame only on the envoys in such cases,” Jilai said.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister addressed the envoys via video link expressing strong displeasure at the “indifferent” attitude of the country’s envoys towards expatriates.

“I am shocked to receive complaints from overseas Pakistanis that our embassies are doing nothing to resolve their problems. Therefore this time I want to monitor and evaluate the performance of our embassies abroad,” the Premier stated on live television.

Many serving diplomats took to the Twitter to express their reservations over the public criticism by Prime Minister.

“Diplomats are the vanguard of the country's defence. When diplomacy fails, war breaks out and generals come to the [battle] field. Just as the humiliation of a general is against national security, so the humiliation of ambassadors is against global principles of national security,” said Yawar Abbas, a career diplomat.

Former foreign secretary Tehmina Januja also shared her reservations over the Twitter, saying: “Deeply dismayed at the unwarranted criticism of the Foreign Ministry. There seems to be woefully inadequate understanding of embassies’ consular work, the acute resource constraints, and the role of multiple departments which not under the control of Ambassadors.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021