The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will devise a course of action to achieve the foreign policy objectives

SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Bureau Chief, Islamabad
July 10 - July 16, 2006

Both President Gen Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who addressed the three-day envoys conference in Islamabad last week, have set economic diplomacy as the major foreign policy goal and directed the Foreign Office to evaluate the performance of Pakistan's ambassadors and commercial counsellors in the light of their achievement in this field.

Highlighting Pakistan's geo-political location in the region, both the President and Prime Minster emphasized the need for the country's envoys deputed in different countries of the world to be proactive in the field of economic diplomacy as the international system was moving away from geo-politics to geo-economic era and for that reason economic diplomacy was crucial to the success of any foreign policy.

Pakistan's envoys posted in 28 important countries across the world attended the three-day annual conference. Based on the deliberations and the guidelines given by the President and the Prime Minster, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make its recommendations and devise a course of action to achieve the foreign policy objectives. The President spent almost seven hours with the envoys with a view to making the annual get-together and interaction effective and meaningful. He dilated upon different aspects of the country's foreign policy and gave clear-cut goals to Pakistani missions and representatives abroad to achieve. His foreign policy vision has the potential to respond to the challenges of the changing times and make Pakistan a focal point both in terms of international politics and economic activities. His advice to the ambassadors was to pursue economic diplomacy, which can unleash enormous opportunities for trade and investment in Pakistan. In his 90-minute address at the conference, the Prime Minister told the envoys that foreign policy is the extension of domestic policies and our diplomats should make concerted efforts to leverage the success of our economic, political and social policies during the last 6 to 7 years. He said that international system was moving away from geo-politics to geo-economic era and the economic diplomacy has become crucial to the success of foreign policy, especially in the case of Pakistan. He stressed for formulating a pragmatic foreign policy based on the leverage of the success of nations' economic, political and social policies keeping in mind the changes taking place at the regional and international levels. The Prime Minister outlined the contours of the foreign policy in the context of the paradigm shift from politics to economic diplomacy at the international level in an emphatic and eloquent manner and enumerated guidelines for its reorientation to the objective realities prevailing in and around Pakistan to protect and promote the national interests. The President has been emphasizing this for the last several years and in fact he had once told the country's ambassadors and high commissioners that their performance would be measured against their achievement in this regard. However, with a few exceptions the advice seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Not only that, some of the ambassadors have miserably failed to get any market access the country already enjoyed due to the dismal attitude of the Foreign Office. It is hoped that this conference during which the President and the Prime Minister told the envoys clearly what was expected from them would provide necessary input to attune Pakistan's policy to the new realities. The outcome of the conference ought to be different from the similar conferences held in the past, which were not so productive and failed to make necessary contribution in this behalf. It is pertinent that the new emerging centers of power, especially in the resource-rich Central Asia, should not be lost of sight and should rather be the source to generate fresh readjustment and realignment in the foreign policy. The progress and improvement on this account can be further ensured if country-specific targets are set for each year and proper monitoring is done to ensure their realization. Ambassadors who fail to achieve them should be called back immediately and debarred from future postings abroad for a significant period. Similarly, our missions abroad are in deep slumber as far as projecting Pakistan in a positive manner. There are persistent and genuine complaints by overseas Pakistanis that our embassies are acting like colonial masters and have scant regard for them and their problems and change of attitude or remedial measures are not in sight. Forging close interaction with overseas Pakistanis, some of whom doing good businesses, will entrench the business community in their respective countries and would draw positive results. Pakistan is slowly emerging as an ideal country for investment as the investors throughout the world are showing interest in making investment in Pakistan. This is the time when our embassies and missions should make concerted efforts to harness this potential. Bedsides China, Japan and Arab world, investors from countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia, have shown interest in investing more in Pakistan. Therefore, it is imperative upon our envoys posted in these countries to play their due role to harness such a vast potential.

11 month Comparison



Export ($ in billion)



Import ($ in billion)



Trade Deficit ($ in billion)