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Sartaj Aziz urges ambassadors to proactively promote Pakistan’s interests at envoys’ moot

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the opening of an envoys’ conference on Monday urged Pakistani ambassadors to proactively protect Pakistani interests and project the country’s stance on vital issues.

Confronted with an aggravating foreign policy crisis, the government has convened the three-day conference to chart a way out.

This is the third such conference during the current government’s tenure and will focus on “critical issues in foreign policy”

Nine Pakistani ambassadors accredited to various capitals and multilateral institutions are in attendance at the moot, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said. Surprisingly, envoys to the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia are not present.

Issues that will be taken up during the event include relations with the US, India (especially in the context of Kashmir uprising), 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.

Deliberations will also be important from the perspective of the upcoming presidential elections in the US and major international realignments currently under way.

“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 FO spokesman 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.

The participants will also receive briefings from military and ISI officials, according to an earlier DNA report.

Barring a couple of success stories, the 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 FO hierarchy, diminished role of the foreign secretary, and the military’s involvement in decision making and implementation — will not be discussed, DNA earlier reported.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the concluding session of the moot, where he will be briefed by ambassadors and share his vision for the country’s foreign policy.

Envoys in attendance at the moot are Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani (Washington); Amb Maleeha Lodhi (United Nations, New York); High Commissioner Abdul Basit (New Delhi); Amb Masood Khalid (Beijing); Amb Qazi Khalilullah (Moscow); Amb Tehmina Janjua (United Nations-Geneva and Conference on Disarmament); Amb Naghm­a­­na Hashmi (Brussels and EU); Amb Ayesha Riyaz (Vienna and International Atomic Energy Agency) and Amb Abrar Hussain (Kabul).


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