The Foreign Office (FO) of a country plays a crucial role in the intricate web of international relations. Once known for its diplomatic skills, Pakistan now faces a dire situation in which the FO’s influence over the formulation of foreign policy is worryingly declining. It is a timely and much-needed call to action that caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and FM Jalil Abbas Jilani have placed emphasis on revitalizing the FO’s central role. In the past, Pakistan’s diplomats were highly esteemed for their intelligence and vision in forming the country’s foreign policy. But a multitude of players influencing foreign policy have overshadowed this golden age. There is a great deal of influence, especially in relation to important nations like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and India. Although the country’s more powerful institutions’ involvement makes sense given the geopolitical context, diplomatic and economic concerns have been overshadowed as a result. While other organizations, like our intelligence services and economic wizards, offer insightful information, they should refrain from directly influencing foreign policy. Moreover, financial institutions have become more influential, particularly after the IMF agreement, which has further fragmented the policymaking process.Since every player has a different viewpoint, it is difficult to create a uniform policy that takes into account everyone’s concerns. The consequences of this disjointed strategy are clear. The FO’s responsibilities have been reduced to dealing with diaspora issues and multilateral engagements.
Pakistan needs to reaffirm the FO’s central position in the formulation of foreign policy if it is to reclaim its lost glory. This highlights the need for these to be discussed with the FO rather than diminishing the importance of contributions from other sectors. To guarantee that Pakistan’s foreign policy is well-rounded, the FO must serve as the melting pot where different viewpoints are combined.In addition, the FO must draw the best brains, just as it did in the past when it attracted the best graduates in the country. This means that when choosing and appointing diplomats, a competence-based method must be used to make sure that institutional or political loyalty does not take precedence over skill. This is about safeguarding a future in which Pakistan’s voice is acknowledged and heard on the international scene, not just about resurrecting a bygone past. Let’s not take a chance that other countries will stop taking Pakistan’s diplomatic institution seriously. Our diplomats ought to influence the global conversation rather than merely participate in it.