As soon as Tehmina Janjua, the first woman foreign secretary, took over on Monday, becoming the first woman in the history of the country to assume the position, the news hit the TV screen: Pakistan reopens its border with Afghanistan.

That was a welcome news and good omen indeed.

The Foreign Office says about its new boss:

“She (Ms Janjua) is a seasoned diplomat with a career spanning over 32 years. She has rich experience of working in bilateral and multilateral domains — both at the headquarters and missions abroad. She also served as a director at the foreign secretary’s office, director general strategic planning, and briefly as a spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs during 2011.”

Successive governments of the PPP and PML-N have left a trail of botched foreign policies, mainly due to internal and external factors.

Ms Janjua will face a host of challenges. Foreign and security policies are considered to be exclusive domains of Pakistan’s Military. We have seen on numerous accounts that officials are pushed back against any interference by the political leadership in the management of military affairs.

However, under the rules of business, no important foreign policy decision can be taken without the approval of the prime minister.

The Constitution of Pakistan’s Article 243(1) states:

“The Federal Government shall have control and command of the Armed Forces”

However, the roles have mostly worked in the opposite direction; for decades Pakistan’s foreign policy has been controlled by the military establishment.

Ever since General Ziaul Haq ousted the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in July 1977 matters pertaining to foreign policy have been solely dealt by Inter-Services Intelligence and the Presidency.

Earlier, even before Bhutto days as Foreign Minister, Pakistan had the distinction of a few foreign ministers and foreign office bureaucrats who tried to charter an independent course.

However, during General Ayub Khan's time Pakistan foreign policy became totally subservient to the American geo-strategic interests to the extent Pakistan became a blue eyed of Pentagon and State Department in American cold war objectives.

As Ayub Khan’s foreign minister Mr Bhutto burned the midnight oil to change the course after Pakistan was let down by the Americans in 1965 war. It was proactive handling of the foreign policy by Mr Bhutto that created some differences between the two and ZAB parted ways with the Tashkent Declaration.

Ayub Khan also admitted how Americans dictated him and blackmailed Pakistan on its sole dependency on American arms for its forces. This bitter fact comes out very candidly in his book Friends Not masters. Bhutto too exposed American domination in every walk of life in his book Myth of Independence.

Pakistan's foreign office attained full glory during the days of Bhutto's rule from 1971 to 1977. It never had it so good. However, everything took a U-turn during Gen Ziaul Haq's 11 year long rule when he sacrificed all national interests and sold Pakistan for peanuts to be American Knight Templar in its war over occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.

Pakistan became a front line state; its soldiers became fodders for the American guns and in the process Pakistan lost everything to gun and heroin culture. After General Zia one expected that democratic governments would free themselves from the stranglehold of ISI in matters of foreign policy.

It did not happen, though Benazir Bhutto tried. She had to accept Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan as foreign minister to continue with pro-American policies.

Whenever the democratic governments tried to be independent especially in relations with India, they had to face problems, internal subversions etc. President Asif Ali Zardari tried to subtly breakaway from the past. However, powers that be who want India specific foreign policy under their control, did not let that happen as manifested in Mumbai and Pathankot to name a few.

However, Mr Zardari laid a solid foundation for reviving Pakistan's relations with China and visited 9 times to put life in the blue print of China Pakistan Economic Corridor that is now taking concrete shape as a game changer. He also defied Americans when he signed gas pipeline deal with Iran when it was under American sanctions.

Indeed PML-N made a commitment in its last election manifesto that it will have an independent foreign policy frame through consultations with relevant institutions and their respective inputs. Regretfully it has been a commitment not to be fulfilled like its pledge that it would follow principle of seniority in the appointment of chiefs of armed forces. It has not done so. Issue of foreign policy and under whose domain it falls is tricky issue.

During Nawaz Sharif’s third tenure India specific foreign policy continues. Despite his best efforts he has not been able to break the stranglehold of ISI. The very fact outgoing Army Chief played more role of a glorified foreign minister that filled the room for a formal political foreign minister.

Let's hope Nawaz Sharif succeeds in freeing Pakistan Foreign Office during the tenure of a new army chief. Sahibzada Yaqoob Khan once described Foreign Office as knuckles of the government for damage repair of its foreign policy blunders.