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Pakistani diplomats now need proficiency endorsements

Pakistani diplomats now need proficiency endorsements

by Syed Atiq ul Hassan
December 6, 2012

Have you ever heard of a Pakistani High Commissioner or Consulate General seeking a signed petition in his/her support from Pakistani residents overseas? It makes no sense, isn’t it? – their performance is judged by their services being delivered for the country and people not by supporting letters but it’s true as it is happening in Australia.

A petition is being circulated in Sydney asking Pakistanis to sign which says that signatories are happy and support the performance of the High Commissioner and Consulate General of Pakistan. The interesting thing is that they have asked couple of Pakistanis who these diplomats close relations to get as many as signatures from the Pakistanis and placed a list of names of signatories with a big picture of High Commissioner on a local community news website. This activity has surprised many prominent Pakistanis, senior community leaders, intellectuals, prominent community radio & newspapers and mainstream Pakistani journalists. Common Pakistanis are also frustrated and disappointed as many of were asked to sign for which they were not happy in the first place and then very reluctantly signed as understandably they don’t want be in trouble for being on the other side of the fence. In general, Pakistani Community has been totally divided on the issue, they are baffled and frustrated.

Understandably, the motive of this petition is to counter those long-standing complaints and issues from Pakistanis living in Australia related to the substandard and delayed services being delivered by diplomatic mission especially Consulate’s office in Sydney (for example; passport renewal, processing times, Pakistani Visa etc) which have already been the headlines of local ethnic and Pakistani media.

The Consulate General who has been in this role for some time now has been found extensively involved in community politics, maintaining relations with those Pakistanis who are running local businesses or want to maintain contacts in Pakistan for their vested interests. According to various stories running around in the Pakistani community in Sydney, the Consulate General privately own partnerships with some local Pakistanis who enjoy close contacts with the Consulate General, in return, when any Pakistani delegation political or non-political visit Australia these people are invited to these events, and introduced to demonstrate solidarity on their performances.

Pakistan is already in limelight internationally in regard to terrorism, religious extremism and failing economic conditions, in this situation, Pakistan needs to be exposed positively internationally. Australia can be one of the top benefactors for Pakistan and Pakistani industries in Pakistan. Pakistan’s neighbour India is making top deals with Australia in many sectors; on the other hand, Pakistani diplomats are busy involving in local Pakistani community politics. These diplomats are hardly seen in the Australian media, promoting Pakistan, meeting with Australian government officials (for supporting Pakistan/Pakistanis) or contacting those Pakistanis who are very respectable and influential in Australia. There are so many highly qualified professionals, journalists, intellectuals, local government officials (Pakistanis) who can be a rich source of information on what these diplomats can do for Pakistan and Pakistanis living in Australia and in Pakistan. But the fact of the matter is that we cannot expect these things from them as they have proved themselves to be incompetent. In order to survive in their jobs and to satisfy their bosses in Islamabad they need letters in their support from the people. An ordinary Pakistani living in Australia doesn’t know what these diplomats are doing except to see their photos in attending community functions, dinners and parties.

Due to the push by the public and in media circles, recently, there has been a dramatic shift in the performance of the High Commission and Consulate office, with a fresh attempt to counter their falling image in the community, by highlighting recent overseas delegation participation in trade show, sporting competition, and Pakistan’s government introduction of the electronic passport. It shows that once they are afraid of losing their seat in office, they can swiftly within a few months showcase their work and even get people to sign a petition in their favour. A positive sign for Australian Pakistanis is that these diplomatic offices do have the capacity to operate but need consistent reminders and boot by the public.

The dilemma Pakistan faces is that in foreign services most of the appointments on high positions like High Commissioner and Consulate General are done on political basis, when a government is changed in Pakistan the High Commissioner and Consulate General are also changed. These incapable diplomats when they arrive in overseas like in Australia, the first thing they do is find those Pakistanis whom they find fit for them to fulfil their desires and vested interest. They create personal relations with those Pakistanis who can serve their goals which they had before departing Pakistan. Obviously, Pakistani community in every country and in Australia is a mixture of good and bad people. To remain survive in job or to extend their tenure and to satisfy the government of Pakistan and their bosses in the foreign affairs ministry they maintain relations with those Pakistanis who can produce certificates of acknowledgement. In return, these people are promised to build-up high-level contacts in Pakistan, to get various opportunities. With these activities, Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad become a tool for these officers and opportunist Pakistanis to achieve their mutual vested interest. In result the country’s resources suffer, country’s funds wasted, the community suffers and common hard working overseas Pakistanis suffer.

Coming back to the recent activity of the High Commissioner and Consulate General, first of all there is no need for any diplomat to ask people to sign on papers in their support, secondly, it is very illogical even if it is believed that they are doing this exercise in the interest of the community then why didn’t they contact every prominent Pakistani, journalist, media group, community organisation , as the fact of the matter is they ignored those who are the true representation of the Pakistani Community. This objectionable activity of the High Commissioner and the Consulate General is basically dividing the community and creating disharmony.

In regard to the common issues, Pakistanis in Australia, are facing is that the Consulate office is only open for public from 11.00am to 2.00pm, documents can only be collected between 3:00pm to 4:00pm, there is only one staff sitting at a small reception window, his level of service is substandard, for small piece of work they take 3 to 5 days. A productive petition would be to get community members to sign a petition to allocate more resources, funding to the Consulate office to hire more staff, bigger premises and technical expertise to improve their services, and send it back to the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad.

Pakistanis in Sydney are already in depression from the failing conditions of Pakistan, in this situation dividing and creation politics within the community by asking some known people to sign on a piece of paper that High Commission and Consulate General office are working efficiently are making common Pakistani more frustrated and agitated.

Therefore, the ministry of foreign affairs must look into the matter and investigate the activities of the High Commissioner and Consulate General (Sydney) before the ministry of foreign affairs receives another petition against this action of the High Commissioner and Consulate General from the majority of Pakistanis in Australia.

*************

Syed Atiq ul Hassan is a Sydney-based journalist, author of Australia for Pakistanis, an educationist, and a senior community leader. His homepage is www.sahassan.com

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