Change of guard in diplomatic corridors
Within a day after returning from the weeklong tour of the US, Prime Minister Imran Khan has brought in seasoned diplomat Munir Akram as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in place of Dr Maleeha Lodhi. The new nominee is a good choice with an impeccable diplomatic career but the abrupt manners in which Dr Lodhi was shown the door begs many questions. This does not seem to be a normal transition. By all means, the tour of the prime minister to the US was well managed, for which the credit goes to Dr Lodhi as well as the diplomatic mission in the US. One of the federal ministers, Fawad Chaudhry, even congratulated Dr Lodhi on her efforts to make prime minister’s tour a great success. Everything was normal until the reshuffle order. Dr Lodhi, however, rejected the impression that she was sacked. She tweeted: “It has been an honour to serve the country and am grateful for the opportunity to do so for over four years. Representing Pakistan at the world’s most important multilateral forum was a great privilege. I had planned to move on after UNGA following a successful visit by the PM”. With this, she wished success to her successor.
No one is indispensable, and neither is Dr Lodhi. Though not a career diplomat, she, however, has served the country on diplomatic fronts with integrity and dexterity. She bid adieu to her journalism career in 1993 when then prime minister Benazir Bhutto appointed her ambassador to the US. After two years, she came back to the same position in 1999 and remained there till 2002 and later moved to the UK to be high commissioner till 2008. In 2015, she was assigned the UN Representative post until 2019.
The government needs to explain the circumstances under which such an abrupt change had to be made. In the field of diplomacy, every single move is keenly observed across the world. Some hostile camps may see this change of guard as a sign of weakness of Pakistan, while many are calling it a routine shuffle. The measure taken in calm and professional manners exude the vibes of confidence. Our ranks of diplomats need confidence and full support of the government as well as the public. *
Pakistan without plastic