Earlier this week, Pakistan lost a distinguished member of its Foreign Service. This person represented his country with great skill and devotion, for well over three and a half decades, while undergoing treatment in London. But Mansoor Alam was much more than a representative of the country’s diplomatic service. After having been a well-known student activist and a practicing Karachi-based lawyer, he participated actively in promoting a democratic and liberal polity in the country. On joining the diplomatic service, he endeavored to bring into the profession an enquiring mind, a keen intellect and a remarkable ability to detach himself from his own biases and his country’s historic hang-ups. This was so he could look objectively and with a degree of healthy detachment at the viewpoint of his interlocutors. This enabled him to win their respect. A kind and compassionate person, Alam possessed a warm and friendly personality. He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes which earned him the admiration of his superiors and subordinates as well as the affection of his colleagues and friends. He was thus an indispensable member of the team, whether in the ministry, or in it’s diplomatic Missions. Over a long and distinguished career, Mansoor had the honor of serving in some of our most important diplomatic missions, including in Washington, London, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Moscow. Wherever he was assigned, he performed with elegance and aplomb, which was coupled with a seriousness of purpose and a commitment to promoting the country’s policies and priorities with unwavering honesty and sincerity. Mansoor Alam wanted to give the less fortunate the opportunity of joining the ranks of the gainfully employed, while also becoming informed and responsible citizens In his initiatives and efforts, Mansoor had the good fortune of having a lady of great style and sophistication by his side. This was his wife Zahra. She complemented her husband in a manner that enabled both to attain far greater heights together than they would have done individually. They were a much sought after couple, and were admired for their hospitality and charm. But Mansoor did not rest on his laurels post-retirement. He opted to enter the realm of voluntary social work, joining hands with family members and friends to establish many informal schools and medical centers in the suburbs of Islamabad and Karachi to ensure that the less privileged sections of society were not denied essential medical care. He wanted to give the less fortunate the opportunity of joining the ranks of the gainfully employed, while also becoming informed and responsible citizens. Mansoor’s passing away is not only a grievous loss to his family members, but a huge setback to the goal of empowering the poor and disfranchised of this country. May his soul rest in peace. The writer was Pakistan’s ambassador to the EU from 2002-2004 and to the US in 1999 Published in Daily Times, October 21st 2017.