Mr Prime Minister, as I had mentioned in the second part of my tri-series letter a few weeks ago, the make or break of your government will be determined by the quality of governance that your administration provides, particularly, in the economic domain; as well as the conduct of your foreign policy. As it happens, both are intertwined and delicately poised. Unfortunately, the situation in the Foreign Office is not what you are made to believe. Judging from the feedback I get from across the board within the ministry, it requires your urgent attention.Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is a gentlemanly politician with a great deal of experience, but if the recently announced ambassadorial postings to some of the most important diplomatic capitals in the world are any evidence, he has been played it seems, to say the least. Ironically, he is being made to believe that ‘revolutionary changes are on course’ in the ministry. It is admirable indeed that post career diplomats have been assigned to key stations. That’s what many countries, including India, has been doing with great success over the years. But then it’s also important to choose the best available officers, strictly on merit. The usual criteria -of course- is seniority, expertise and performance. But that does not seem to have been the case at all while nominating envoys for many important countries, particularly, the key diplomatic capitals of Washington, London and Riyadh recently. I don’t want to spill the beans but suffice it to say that there is an unwholesome story behind each of these postings; not in keeping with your manifesto of merit and transparency.For instance, multiple sources in the Foreign Office unanimously felt that the current ambassador to Spain, Khayyam Akbar, would have been a much better candidate for Riyadh given his seniority, mature personality, previous experience and performance. But apparently Khayyam didn’t have the right connections. The masterstroke was that the foreign minister was made to take ownership of all these postings by announcing them in a press conference before even agréments were obtained. It is admirable indeed that post career diplomats have been assigned to key stations. That’s what many countries, including India, has been doing with great success over the years. But then it’s also important to choose the best available officers, strictly on merit.In the ambassadorial postings yet to be announced, similar happenings are being reported by the Foreign Office grapevine, which strongly suggest the need for you to personally intervene to ensure there isn’t a repeat like that of the last round of faulty decision-making.Mr Prime Minister, please do pay some attention to the workings of the Foreign Office. Do instruct the ministry to lay down a policy for ambassadorial postings. Ideally, there should be a committee for selecting ambassadors, which should include, besides the foreign minister and the foreign secretary, the advisor for commerce and some former accomplished diplomats such as Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Riaz Khokhar or Inam ul Haq. At least for the most important capitals, three candidates should be nominated for each ambassadorial position and then interviewed by the committee. This way the door for nepotism and favouritism shall be closed and best people for the job shall be selected. Otherwise, the entire senior cadre of the Foreign Office will keep busy pulling strings, or currying favour with those who matter, rather than focusing on promoting Pakistan’s interests. As a consequence, the precious foreign exchange being spent to keep our embassies abroad will not producing optimal results.Mr Prime Minister, perhaps even more important is the direction of your foreign policy. For long the paper hawks in the ministry have played the politicians and others by wearing their patriotism on their sleeves, and making jingoistic noise, just to get posted to key stations and staying there beyond the regular tenure sometimes or reaching the top position in the Foreign Office. Ironically, many of these stalwarts don’t even live in Pakistan once they retire. These were the kind of people who misled the then Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the 1965 war. They shrewdly convinced him and others of the mistaken notion that India would not retaliate anywhere other than the Line of Control (LoC). If not for the heroic riposte made by our valiant armed forces, Pakistan would have been in deep trouble when India stealthily attacked Lahore and other vitally important population centres instead.At any rate, Pakistan’s exemplary march to economic development was totally derailed by that specific policy blunder. Something from which Pakistan has never truly recovered. These elements were instrumental in spurring Bhutto to behave in a dramatic manner at the UN Security Council (UNSC) in December 1971. The irony is that while Pakistan seriously suffered from such myopic elements, these individuals always prospered in their personal pursuits. Indeed, some of these diplomats may have been brilliant, but that brilliance was only employed for their personal glory, and the state’s interests suffered irreparably in the process.Mr Prime Minister, you need a foreign policy that brings peace and prosperity to the people of Pakistan as per Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s guiding principles. A policy that will support the valiant efforts of our armed forces and rids the country of terrorists and separatist groups. A policy that would truly support your economic vision for the country. But for that you need honest and dynamic diplomats in key positions, whose judgment is not tainted by selfish interests; and whose policy advice is only based on their sincere assessment of what is best for the country.The writer is a diplomatic correspondent, at Daily TimesPublished in Daily Times, January 11th 2019.