Resentment in FO over politicising diplomatic cable

Diplomats say controversy can undermine mission’s working


Kamran Yousaf April 06, 2022
PHOTO: FACEBOOK/IMRAN KHAN

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ISLAMABAD:

There is resentment in the Foreign Office over the PTI government’s move to use a diplomatic cable for gaining political mileage as diplomats have voiced concerns that the controversy would undermine their working.

Two Foreign Office officials, who spoke to The Express Tribune while requesting not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, revealed that the diplomats were not happy with the controversy.

One official said that the repercussions of the way the government used the secret and classified communication to achieve its political objectives and its negative impact would be felt in the Foreign Office for many years to come.

The official explained that the first negative fallout of the controversy would be that now diplomats posted abroad would be very careful in their assessments. "Diplomats are eyes and ears of Pakistan who give frank and honest feedback from the countries where they serve," the official added.

Read SC says wants to know about 'foreign conspiracy' before making decision

"Such honest and candid assessments are meant for policymakers to devise strategy accordingly," the official explained.

"But if governments start using such secret communications for their political gains, then the diplomats would be reluctant to write honest assessments," the official cautioned.

Another official admitted that the government seemed to have blown the "cable" issue out of proportion. "If the Foreign Office start making public diplomatic cables, people would be blown away," the official said, insisting such candid discussions between diplomats are common.

But a retired senior diplomat, who also served in the US as Pakistan ambassador, said the language used by certain American officials was "harsh" and “unusual”.

He, nevertheless, acknowledged that such issues needed to be dealt with "prudence".
The diplomatic cable the Pakistani ambassador in Washington sent to the Foreign Office contained what Prime Minister Imran Khan says is evidence of a foreign plot to oust his government.

The cable was based on a conversation between Ambassador Asad Majeed and US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Donald Lu.

Read more Imran Khan seeks Memogate-style probe into ‘Lettergate’

The US diplomat, according to the cable, conveyed to the Pakistani envoy that Washington was not happy with Pakistan’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The American official then went on to say "going ahead would be tough" for Pakistan, if the vote of no-confidence against the prime minister did not succeed.

Pakistan would be forgiven for the mistake if the no-trust move succeeded, as per the cable.

Prime Minister Imran interpreted the communication as a clear threat of a regime change from the US and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri used the same pretext to reject the vote of no confidence.

The matter is now before the Supreme Court. Prime Minister Imran through his lawyer has requested the apex court to form a high-powered commission to look into the allegations of foreign conspiracy.

The Foreign Office spokesperson did not respond till the filing of the report when asked whether there was resentment within the ministry over the controversy and whether this would negatively affect the working of the country’ missions abroad.

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