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HomeUncategorizedComing apart at the Seams – Pakistani Society and Its Diplomats

Coming apart at the Seams – Pakistani Society and Its Diplomats

On 11 Aug 2022, a senior Pakistani diplomat and Consul General of Paki­stan in Spanish city of Barce­lona, Mirza Salman Baig, was sacked from his position on sexual harassment charges levelled by a local staffer of the consulate, credible sources reported.

            While the matter is currently under investigation, and so it may not be correct to comment or speculate about it, what should be of larger concern to the global community are the series of misdemeanours that have recently cropped up in regard to Pakistani diplomats.

To illustrate, early in 2021, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz, was recalled and admonished for ‘mistreatment and neglect of Pakistani expats’. Other allegations against his staff included bribery, and dereliction of duty in so far as looking after Pakistani citizens aboard was concerned. In another instance the same year, two Pakistani diplomats, were caught stealing a hat worth $ 10.70 and chocolate for $ 1.7 in Yongsan, Korea. Other troubling headlines also surfaced over the next few months, such as allegations of domestic abuse against Munir Akram, Pakistan’s current Permanent Representative to UN; Assistant Visa Officer at the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka, Mazhar Khan’s arrest for dealing in fake currencies in 2015; two Pakistani diplomats in the UK charged with child abduction and rape in 2014 – a crime so serious that Islamabad voluntarily surrendered their diplomatic immunity; Waqas Ahmed, a Pakistani diplomat in Harare arrested and imprisoned for human trafficking in May 20 – the list of charges is horrifying – human trafficking, money laundering, sexual harassment and even sexual misconduct with minors.

An isolated incident may reflect an individual’s character flaws, but such incidences’ regular and repeated occurrence tells a different story about Pakistan’s diplomats in specific and Pakistani society in general. This is not to say that all Pakistanis are corrupt, barbaric, lawless brutes. However, what such a trend points towards is a seeming moral decay in Pakistani society because of the conspicuous absence of a tradition of effective, exemplary leadership. We need to ask ourselves – after Jinnah, has Pakistan had any leaders of the stature of a Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Barrack Obama, or Mikhail Gorbachev? Does (and more importantly can) a Nawaz Sharif (currently on expired Bail in London for medical treatment), or Benazir Bhutto (assassinated by a bomb blast in 2007), measure up to an Atal Behari Vajpai, or an Indira Gandhi? And the answer to this is a dismal, yet telling no! Though, one must bear in mind that the ‘no’ doesn’t come because of individual shortcomings, as much as it comes because of the lack of a true democratic framework in the country’s governance setup.  The absence of such a framework has been a major reason at the heart of the petty, internecine, self-centred nature of Pakistani society and governmental structures as a whole.

To further elaborate, Jinnah, in his Anglophonic orderliness, had adopted the British-style parliamentary system in 1947. However, it took respective Pakistani constituent assembly/assemblies nine years of virulent infighting to frame Basic Laws, which are supposed to be the social contract between the State and the people, which form the essential rubric of any ‘civilised’ society. Nor surprisingly, these had not even been sanctified by an election when General Ayub Khan imposed his martial law in 1958. The first countrywide general elections were held in 1970 (twenty-three years after Pakistan was formed) which ironically led to the break-up of the country after nine months i.e. the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the creation of Bangladesh.

Thus, Pakistan society and its governmental institutions have never got either the cushioning of a strong, steadfast, stable democracy; nor the blessings of visionary leadership, given that its leaders are either assassinated, or exiled, or thrown into jail for disagreeing with the Pakistani Army and ISI. The result becomes all too apparent when one reads about the Nawaz Sharifs, Imran Khans, and the Bhuttos (both Zulfikar and Benazir); or are shocked by recent headlines about Pakistan diplomats breaking new records in the field of misdemeanours and crimes.

It is a sad realisation, given that a nation’s diplomatic cadre is meant to be the most exemplary reflection of its society and ethos. These individuals are carefully selected and groomed to embody the culture and values of their country. Perhaps, seventy-five years of governance failure in Pakistan due to its leaderships’ selfish hunger for power is slowly bursting at the seams, and showing the true rot at the heart of an already failing nation.

Learning from a similarly-aged country from across the border is an option that is always available. Though, this may never happen, given that ‘hubris’ is a close friend of ‘overweening hunger for power’ that Pakistani politics and State machinery has been both a victim and perpetrator of, since 1947. 

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