Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday urged the ambassadors of Pakistan, residing in different countries to regain the “lost touch” with overseas Pakistanis to lobby for Pakistan in order for it to be beneficial for the the country’s image, globally.
At the launching ceremony of the Foreign Minister’s Portal in Islamabad, the minister stated that “Ambassadors have a responsibility to lobby for the country. You can find many skilled, well connected and influential people. They have their own professional expertise. Why don’t we use them to lobby for Pakistan and to improve the image of the country.”
FM Qureshi urged the ambassadors to be well connected with overseas Pakistanis, especially the younger generation.
“We have to effectively utilize this excellent diaspora to improve Pakistan’s image and achieve Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives” he stated.
It is pertinent to note that earlier in April, because of allegations of improper treatment of Pakistanis living in the Kingdom, Pakistan had suspended the outgoing ambassador to Saudi Arabia and recalled six of the diplomats posted at the embassy in Riyadh.
The ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz was suspended and called back to Islamabad at a short notice. Ejaz personally met Prime Minister Imran Khan on his return, where the PM censured him.
The Foreign Office later released a statement stating that Pakistan have a policy of “zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in the public service delivery”.
FM Qureshi in his address today stated that the ambassadors are expected to improve their behaviour with the overseas Pakistanis and “focus on resolving their complaints” in order to stay well connected with them by improving access and outreach through technology.
FM Qureshi revealed that around nine million Pakistanis were based abroad, noting that “they remit money to the country more than that of our exports.” The minister stated that the overseas Pakistanis must feel welcomed, as they are the “best assets” of the country.
“We need to review our approach and behaviour in dealing with our Pakistanis abroad,” he told the gathering. He said millions of overseas Pakistanis could be facilitated “if we change our mindset”.
As per the objectives of foreign policy, FM Qureshi said it was among the government’s top priorities to gain access to all Pakistanis, including successful businessmen, bankers, lawyers who were living abroad.
“Ambassadors often arrange our meetings with people. But there are millions who are left out. We have to effectively utilise them,” stated the minister.
Earlier on Monday, the FM expressed Pakistan’s desire to strengthen bilateral ties with Australia in the fields of economy, trade, education, defence, agriculture and science and technology.
In a telephonic conversation with Australian counterpart Marise Payne, FM Qureshi stated that Pakistan gives importance to its relations with Australia.
While discussing the situation in Afghanistan, the FM stated that the international community must take concrete steps for the humanitarian and economic assistance of the Afghanis.
“The world community will have to take decisions regarding Afghanistan keeping in view the challenges and prospects there,” he stated.
Qureshi stated that Pakistan extended help for the safe evacuation of about 21,000 people of 37 countries from Afghanistan.
He added that Pakistan had been most affected because of violence in Afghanistan as it is a close neighbour.
Earlier in October, during a meeting with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad, the foreign minister said that Pakistan desired a broad-based, long term and sustainable relationship with the United States (US) for the promotion of economic cooperation and regional peace.
“A regular and organised dialogue between the two countries is important to promote bilateral relations as well as to achieve shared regional objectives,” the foreign minister stated.
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