ISLAMABAD -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is yet to make some important diplomatic appointments but some ‘blue eyed’ officials in the foreign ministry cannot wait that long as they are being accommodated on priority basis in violation of the rules for slightly lower-level jobs, The Nation learnt.

Sources at the foreign ministry said Director Foreign Secretary Office Salman Sharif was ‘gifted’ another chance at Pakistan’s embassy in Washington by his boss Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, who will soon take over as ambassador to the US.

The mid ranked officer has already served a term in Washington and other aspirants believe he had been accommodated on the basis of favouritism rather than on merit.

Sources at the ministry said that outgoing Foreign Secretary’s posting plan had upset many senior officers, who were expecting better appointments. “The rule of ‘no A to A station posting’ has not been implemented, especially in the case of Salman Sharif,” said a source.

Likewise, he said, there was an issue with the posting of officials in Geneva after Tehmina Janjua - serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations – takes over as the Foreign Secretary in the coming days.

The source said the posting of Deputy Chief of Protocol Naeem Iqbal Cheema to New York Consulate was already being challenged by the eligible officers.

“There is a massive dissatisfaction in the foreign ministry on the postings abroad. Those who are being ignored are pointing to the role of personal likings and disliking,” he added.

He said the posting and transfers of Deputy Director Fareena Arshad, Asif Memon Usman Iqbal and Haseeb were also a discussion point.

The controversy over the recent posting plans has demoralised a large number of officers and casts a dark cloud over the ministry.

This month, PM Sharif had formally appointed Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry as new ambassador to the United States. Tehmina Janjua will replace him in Islamabad as the Foreign Secretary.

Chaudhry is a career Foreign Service Officer with over 36 years of bilateral and multilateral experience in the field of diplomacy. He has been serving as the Foreign Secretary since December 2013. Earlier, he served as the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry.

Officials said the PM had made the two important appointments – of foreign secretary and the ambassador to the US – after careful consideration hoping to improve ties with Washington.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said Chaudhry had annoyed many through his latest posting plan. “Likes and dislikes do play a role but there should be some justification,” he said.

The official said Salman Sharif had been appointed as first secretary in Pakistan’s embassy in Washington. “He has previously served in Washington, so this is irritating for many officers as they feel rules have not been observed,” he added.

He said there would be more trouble in the days to come as some vacancies will become vacant after the appointments at home and abroad.

Although Tehmina Janjua was appointed as Foreign Secretary by the prime minister, High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Syed Ibne Abbas were also seriously considered for the job. Pakistan’s ambassador in China Masood Khalid and former ambassador to France Ghalib Iqbal too were among the candidates.

These candidates for the foreign secretary’s job, he said, were also expected to get new jobs in the near future. “This tension could remains for some time,” he warned.

A senior official at the foreign ministry had earlier told The Nation that there could be around 10 new high-level appointments due to the reshuffle. The foreign ministry was making proposals to be sent to the PM for the new appointments.

PM Sharif is also under pressure to appoint a full-time Foreign Minister to deal with the diplomatic challenges. Currently Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi are looking after the foreign ministry who Sharif keeps the ministerial portfolio with himself.

 

 

SHAFQAT ALI