Despite having an official quota of 6% for residents working in foreign office jobs, a mere 1% of people from Balochistan province are serving in overseas missions.
More than 2,354 employees are working in over 117 Pakistani foreign missions which consumed a whopping Rs9.8 billion in 2013, with cumulative expenditures totalling Rs48.8 billion in the last six years.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, in his written reply to the National Assembly, claimed, “The government has fixed a 6% quota for making appointments from Balochistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strictly observes this quota.”
If the official quota is to be followed, at least 130 employees must be from Balochistan, residents with domicile status, the Foreign Office’s senior officials said.
A 53% quota has been reserved for Punjab; 20% for Sindh, 18% for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan and 3% for AJK, they explained.
An estimated 568 officers and 1,833 supporting staff are serving at Pakistani missions abroad.
According to the documents, accountant Ayesha Nasreen, BPS-14, is the only woman from Balochistan in the Pakistan Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The issue of ‘ignoring’ Balochistan was taken up by MNA Abdul Qahar Wadan of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, who sought details of Balochistan officials serving for Pakistani missions.
Responding to this question, Sartaj Aziz also claimed that under the Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Package, in the past 18 months adequate posts have been filled under the Balochistan quota.
Reality is different as the lone driver Muhammad Ashraf, who was appointed under this package in April 2013, did not join the service, the reply further states. Some 36 staffers who are currently serving in the Foreign Office, Islamabad, also belong to Balochistan, it added.
According to details, a total 19 of the 568 officers serving abroad belong to Balochistan. Of these, 308 are diplomats and 260 are from information, defence, culture and commercial counseling. About 235 officers are from Punjab; 79 from K-P, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan; 47 from urban Sindh; 41 from rural Sindh; 12 Azad Jammu and Kashmir and seven from Islamabad.
Two ambassadors, Ghalib Iqbal in Paris and Asif Durrani in Abu Dhabi, hold Balochistan domicile.
Five officers from Balochistan are serving abroad. These are Assistant Private Secretary (APS) Adeel Kenneth in Berne; APS Zakir Hussain in Harare; APS Razaq Ansari in Yangon; APS Imran Ahmed in Tehran and APS Muhammad in Brasilia.
The list of other supporting staff includes: assistant Muhammad Furqan, who is serving in the Pakistan Embassy in Tripoli; accountant Ali Abbas in Herat, accountant Muhammad Salman in Chicago, accountant Abdul Rauf in Vienna, accountant Mumtaz Anwar Ghani in Warsaw, accountant Baqir Shah in Lisbon, cypher assistant Rashid Afridi in Beijing, cypher assistant Kabir Afridi in Canberra, cypher assistant Khalid Mahmood in Tehran, cypher assistant Irfan Khan in Tashkent, cypher assistant Asim Raza in Warsaw, steno-typist Asif Ali in United Nation, New York, upper division clerk Sohail Ahmed in New Delhi, driver Ali Haider in Brasilia, driver Allah Waraya in Riyadh and Abdul Wali Khan is serving as special security guard in Kandahar.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam says, “The quota is observed at the time of initial recruitment. After that, postings and transfers are made on the basis of merit, languages learnt and availability of vacant posts and personal choices.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2014.