A simple diplomatic appointment has quickly turned into a minor embarrassment for the Foreign Office and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government. After choosing Major General Saad Khattak as the new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and receiving approval from the Sri Lankan government, the ruling party withdrew his name as their choice due to the Defence Minister’s objection. It is not yet known what objection Pervaiz Khattak had with the appointment, or why he was consulted (or chose to provide his input) at the final hour, but the fact remains that this sort of unprofessional and amateur behaviour is not something one expects from the government of a country of over 200 million people.

While withdrawing a nomination of a diplomatic candidate is not something unheard of in foreign policy, choosing to do so after receiving an agrément – official acceptance of the diplomatic assignment – from the Sri Lankan government goes against the norms of diplomacy and reflects poor decision-making in front of another state.

With each careless mistake such as this, the PTI government displays its own naivete, but at the additional cost of damaging the reputation of the Pakistan state as a whole. Allowing for other countries to espouse the perception that Pakistan has an indecisive government that makes mistakes often is not something that the ruling party wants to put out in front of other countries. With PTI’s diplomatic connection to Sri Lanka still limited, putting our best foot forward was important, and this turnaround will not help make a good impact on the government’s counterparts in Sri Lanka.

The PTI government must remember that as the majority party in the centre its actions, indecisions and silly diplomatic faux pas only establishes Pakistan’s careless attitude. This is no longer even a new government; we are deep into PTI’s term in government and the fact that it cannot follow simple procedure or basic diplomatic formalities is not acceptable anymore. The Prime Minister and his cabinet need to run the government with all rules and procedures intact, and not at the whim of the Premier and his ministers. The PTI government must remember, that the Prime Minister has eyes on him from across the world, especially now that he has put himself in the spotlight after the UN meeting. A more mature approach to governance is sorely needed.