ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday urged Pakistan’s ambassadors deputed in different countries to regain the “lost touch” with the younger generation to achieve foreign policy objectives and brighten the country’s image.
“Ambassadors have a responsibility to lobby for the country. You can find many skilled, well connected and influential people. They have their own professional expertise. Why don’t we use them to lobby for Pakistan and to improve the image of the country,” the minister said at the launching ceremony of the Foreign Minister’s Portal in Islamabad.
Qureshi advised the embassies to regain the “lost touch” with overseas Pakistanis, especially the younger generation. “We have to effectively utilise this excellent diaspora to improve Pakistan’s image and achieve Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives.”
Earlier in April, Pakistan had [suspended] the outgoing ambassador to Saudi Arabia and recalled six of the diplomats posted at the embassy in Riyadh over allegations of improper treatment of the Pakistanis living in the Kingdom.
Raja Ali Ejaz, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was suspended weeks before his retirement and called back to Islamabad at a short notice. Prime Minister Imran Khan had personally met Ejaz on his return and censured him.
The Foreign Office later said in a statement that the country had a policy of “zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in the public service delivery”.
In his address today, Qureshi said it was expected of envoys to improve their behaviour with the overseas community and “focus on resolving their complaints”.
The minister said he knew about limited resources, adding that “we can still improve our access and outreach through technology”.
Qureshi said around nine million Pakistanis were based abroad, noting that “they remit money to the country more than that of our exports.” The minister added it would be sad for the country if its people living abroad “don’t feel welcome”.
“We need to review our approach and behaviour in dealing with our Pakistanis abroad,” he told the gathering. He said millions of overseas Pakistanis could be facilitated “if we change our mindset”.
Qureshi reiterated that overseas nationals were the “best assets” of the country.
He said it was among the government’s top priorities to gain access to all Pakistanis, including successful businessmen, bankers, lawyers who were living abroad. “Ambassadors often arrange our meetings with people. But there are millions who are left out. We have to effectively utilise them,” remarked the minister.