PM’s Speech on the Occasion of inauguration of Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan Block of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

December 27, 2013

Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz

Members of the Cabinet,

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Mr. Tariq Fatemi

Foreign Secretary,

Distinguished Heads of Diplomatic Missions,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be visiting the Foreign Office again. First of all, I would like to congratulate the officers and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the inauguration of a new office block.

I commend the efforts of all those who have worked on this important project.

The new block is befittingly named after Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, a towering personality, in every respect. I have personally known him for many years. He is that rare example of the finest soldiers becoming an outstanding diplomat and rounding it all by learning and scholarship, that has earned him respect of people in Pakistan and abroad.

 We are grateful to the friendly countries who have graciously contributed to this building’s interior decoration. The elegant chandeliers from Turkey are one such shining example.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For any State, diplomacy is the first line of defence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our diplomats, therefore, play an indispensable role in any nation’s efforts to promote peace, and foster regional and international cooperation.

Conventional diplomacy has now acquired new dimensions. Broadly speaking, specialized streams like multi & bilateral diplomacy and economic coupled with public diplomacy and services streams are now more relevant. In this perspective, to name a few, I recognize the important part played by successive generations of our diplomats including Mr. Jamshed Marker who was a non-career diplomat, Mr. Agha Shahi an ICS Officer, and Mr. Sheharyar Khan a career diplomat who all worked for the advancement of Pakistan’s key national objectives.

I am confident that this institution would adopt to the changing paradigms in diplomacy and continue to adapt itself to the rapidly changing global environment and further promote our core national interests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah enunciated the key element of our foreign policy when he said “Our object should be peace within and peace without” and it still remains the defining element of our foreign policy.

He made it clear that Pakistan wanted to live peacefully and maintain friendly relations with its immediate neighbours and with the world at large. 

One of the most distinguishing features of the present times is the peaceful democratic transition in Pakistan. The vibrancy of today’s Pakistan is further reflected in an independent judiciary, a free media and a dynamic civil society.

While the strengthening of democracy is indeed a matter of pride, we remain conscious that our nation also confronts formidable foes - the menace of extremism and terrorism and a challenging economic situation. Accordingly, our Government’s priorities in the domestic arena include: fighting terrorism, reviving the economy, resolving the energy crisis, and improving governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our foreign Policy is based on four key priorities:

 Firstly, build a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood

Secondly, reach out to regional and international partners

Thirdly, focus on “trade, not aid”

And lastly, develop a consensus-based approach to counter terrorism

In order to realize the policy objectives, we have taken important initiatives to improve relations with Afghanistan, resume dialogue with India, strengthen strategic partnership with China, re-build relations with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest, engagement with Europe, and enhance our solidarity with the Islamic world.

Our emphasis on economic dimensions of the national agenda is reflected in all these interactions. The recent approval of GSP Plus by EU testifies to this fact.

In short, our message to the world is of peace and friendship. We seek cooperation based on mutual interest.

Our effort is to transform the existing friendly ties into mutually beneficial partnerships.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in a globalised world where no one can afford isolation at any level.

As Public servants isolation would make you oblivious to the needs of the people while at state level isolation leads to segregation from the world community. Aura of elitism is no longer relevant and Foreign Service has to align itself towards public service.

The officers and Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are the Ambassadors of Pakistan. It is through them that world community interacts with our country. It is their responsibility to exhibit character which markets a positive image of our country and in order to do so, officers have to increase public contacts.

 

In modern ages the political diplomacy goes hand in hand with economic diplomacy. Our Missions abroad must enhance their skills of economic diplomacy. Their role in the enhancement of trade, investment and economic cooperation is critical and would be a yardstick by which their performance would be evaluated. Foreign Office has to further strengthen institutional linkages with ministries of Commerce, Economic Affairs, Information & Broadcasting, Interior and organistaions like Board of Investment and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in order to build a positive image of Pakistan and to promote and safeguard economic interests of our country.  

Moreover, after devolution of powers to the provinces, the foreign office has to interact with Provincial Governments more often and facilitate provinces to establish contacts with other countries.

 I expect the Foreign Office to harness our economic potential in tandem with other ministries and provincial governments in a proactive manner to attract foreign investments and to adopt a cohesive approach for implementing a positive advocacy campaign for our important role in the fight against terrorism.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our Missions also need to pay special attention to the needs of overseas. Foreign Missions need to increase their accessibility towards Pakistani community and adopt welcoming and responsive attitude towards them. The Heads of Mission must maintain close liaison with the Pakistani community and oversee implementation of measures aimed at safeguarding their rights and interests in foreign lands and enhancing their well-being.

As I conclude, I would like to assure the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Government would do everything within its means to provide the necessary facilities and tools to enable them to fulfill their important responsibilities with dedication and efficiency.

 

At the end I pray that the New Year brings peace, unity, development and prosperity for Pakistan and for entire world .

 

Wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Thank you.