Islamabad, Aug 1 (IANS) Pakistan’s top foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz on Monday urged Pakistani envoys to proactively protect Islamabad’s interests and project the country’s stance on vital issues.
Aziz was addressing the opening session of a three-day Envoys’ Conference convened by the Pakistan government to chart a way out of the aggravating foreign policy crisis that confronts the country.
This is the third such conference during the current government’s tenure and will focus on “critical issues in foreign policy”, according to a source.
Nine Pakistani ambassadors accredited to various capitals and multilateral institutions are in attendance at the meet, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said. Surprisingly, envoys to Britain and Saudi Arabia were not present.
Issues that will be taken up during the event include relations with the US, India (especially in the context of the Kashmir unrest), Afghanistan, China, Russia and the European Union; the upcoming Saarc summit; membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and disarmament affairs; terrorism, and UN-related matters.
“The envoy’s conference is a regular feature in which Pakistan’s representatives in various regions brief the government on important developments in their respective areas of accreditation, and challenges and opportunities arising out of such developments,” Zakaria said.
The spokesperson added that the envoys also present their recommendations regarding Pakistan’s existing foreign policy with a view to review, adapt, and recalibrate policy in accordance with prevalent strategic, political and economic trends.
Barring a couple of success stories, the Pakistan foreign policy fiasco has pushed the country into international isolation.
While the envoys and the Foreign Office top brass brainstorm on the problems and strategy for climbing out of isolation, it is likely that fundamental issues causing paralysis in foreign policy functioning — the absence of a full-time foreign minister, duality at the top in the foreign office hierarchy, diminished role of the foreign secretary, and the military’s involvement in decision making and implementation — will not be discussed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the concluding session of the meeting, where he will be briefed by ambassadors and share his vision for the country’s foreign policy.
Envoys in attendance at the conference include High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador to China Masood Khalid, UN (New York) Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Ambassador to Austria Ayesha Riyaz, Ambassador to the European Union Naghmana Hashmi, Ambassador to Afghanistan Abrar Hussain, Ambassador to UN (Geneva) Tehmina Janjua and Ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah.