Ever since Prime Minister Imran Khan came out scathingly against the lack of performance by our ambassadors posted in 19 countries representing Pakistan in foreign capitals, our diplomatic personnel are surely hurt at the community’s Achilles heels. Their ambiguity and unease in silence show how deeply our flag carriers in foreign capital are grieved. Typical of his lingual diatribe, he accused them of harbouring a ‘colonial mindset’ and behaving like Pucca sahibs in dealing with the expatriate Pakistani community has established its credentials as one of the most hard-working community earning a major portion of Pakistan’s foreign exchange income. Obviously, the mounting anger that has been building up among the foreign office officers ever since the Prime Minister blurted out his foot-in-the-mouth guffaw like playing his loose shots in a match with bowlers below par, the annoyance of the diplomatic community is understandable. Khan’s lexicon– a legacy of the British colonial masters—talked of the colonial mindset and ‘callousness’ in their dealing with the Pakistani Diaspora estimated to be more than a few million living abroad in most difficult and trying weather conditions in an untenable socio-economic environment making their lives extremely challenging. Prime Minister Khan as we all know is fond of speaking without any proper brief, off the cuff even on subjects that expect the Prime Minister to be circumspect, carefully select his words and syntax. His remark that Pakistani diplomats are very extravagant in being callous in dealing with the expatriate community—cannot be taken lying down. Unfortunately, he uses the expression and calls our diplomats ‘harbouring’ colonial mindset in dealing with the expatriate community. Not that Imran Khan could be entirely wrong in his own Angeles upbringing in Oxford or in Pakistan in the company of English speaking crowd, he is wrong to attribute it all to a colonial mindset. Although Imran Khan does not say so much nor does he have that sort of ingress with our Foreign Office boys who have enjoyed the reputation of being the Pucca sahibs ever since it became the hub of our foreign office and diplomats. It was through bred British orientation at the time of the birth of the country, our Knighted Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan laid the foundation of a colonial foreign policy overriding the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s essentially patriotic approach. Foreign Office diplomats owing their loyalty to London put their foot down to make Pakistan shun what could have been a million-dollar opportunity that came Liaquat’s way from the Soviet Union in the form of its invitation to visit the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Zafarullah Khan and his foreign office officials with most of their children studying in London had enough excuses to prevail for not accepting the Soviet invitation. They obviously opted that instead of Soviet invitation Pakistan should coax an invite from Washington. They spurned the Soviet Invite on the plea that Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry did not have enough number of trained personnel to head its Soviet embassy. It was Prime Minister Khan who while talking to Pakistani envoys through video conference said that he had noticed ‘shocking callousness’ of our diplomats posted overseas following incidents involving the expatriate community. He singled out missions in Saudi Arabia and UAE where we have most of the Pakistani Diaspora overseas. Indeed, the harsh way his comments were delivered made it look like the condemnation of the entire foreign service. Mr Khan believes indifferent attitude unpardonable. Mr Khan warned the officers to give up their ‘colonial mindset’ and be kind to the expatriate communities. Khan’s comments came after his government suspended the outgoing envoy to Saudi Arabia one of the favourites of PTI Speaker NA. Six other diplomats from Riyadh got the sack for not properly serving their community. Obviously, Khan’s comments later rescinded, caused rising angst and demoralisation among the officers of the foreign service. To one senior officer, the Ik’s toxic remarks have been rather tense and have even made the docile ones speak up. In the overall context of the behaviour of the foreign office boys, there is no denying that overseas communities have faced untold problems. However, officers contend that IK’s presentation of the issues is bankrupt of substance. He solely relied on complaints while making allegations instead of first studying the issue to understand it. Although serving officers, because of the official discipline, could not publicly respond to IK, former foreign secretaries took the lead in denouncing the premier’s comments on social media. Former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua expressed her dismay at the unwarranted criticism of the Foreign Ministry, according to her there seems to be a woefully inadequate understanding of Embassies’ consular work, the acute resource constraints, and the role of multiple departments which [are] not under the control of Ambassadors.” Another former foreign secretary Salman Bashir explained on Twitter: “Usual services to the community are essential in the domain of other departments that handle passports, NICOP [National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis], consular attestation etc.” There are structural reasons behind these problems and if thoroughly and dispassionately probed, it would become evident that the rot is due to the dysfunction of various governmental institutions and not the Foreign Office alone. Blaming FO would only cover up the real structural issues, officers posted at the FO stressed. The prime minister himself mentioned that most of the complaints pertain to passports and ID cards, which come under the domain of the Ministry of Interior and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra)-run by his favourite federal minister Sheikh Rashid. More significantly, the officials from the directorate general of passport and Nadra are not trained to function in foreign environments. “A majority are rude, make applicants take multiple rounds and in most of the cases with shortcomings, these officials use the ‘over-rule button — implying that the applicant is ‘not’ a Pakistan national, rendering thousands of Pakistanis stateless who then have to pay large amounts to get their names cleared,” another foreign service officer said. Similarly, going online for visas, ID cards, and passports has created lots of problems. The blind jump on the “online” wagon has been made without enough research. The common Pakistani in the Middle East, Europe and even in North America cannot write Urdu let alone English. An exasperated officer said: “You have pushed Pakistanis into the hands of agent mafias dominated by Indians, Bengalis, Afghans and Pakistanis. All Pakistanis abroad pay them hefty fees, and the data reaches hostile countries.” The angst in the Foreign Office is palpable and widespread. “There are numerous sterling examples,” said a senior officer at the headquarters. The Strategic Communications Division under the foreign minister has aligned Pakistan’s social media initiative for the first time in Pakistan’s history on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The FM direct application allows communication with heads of missions and it is frequently used. New missions are being opened in Africa. Officers at the FO said the Foreign Office has emerged as the custodian of Pakistan’s moral stand on Kashmir. The FO has defended Pakistan’s nuclearisation in a hostile world as well as its defence needs. It is not that the diaspora only has complaints against the Pakistani missions. They in WhatsApp conversations recalled that the entire staff of the embassy in Greece contracted coronavirus and had to function minimally; the consulate in Milan issued travel documents late into the night when immigration opened in Italy last year. The state legislature of New York passed a resolution on Kashmir due to the efforts of the consulate and the community there. The Los Angeles consulate has worked with Amazon to give Pakistan seller status. The Barcelona consulate is famous in Europe because it remained open on Sundays during Covid 1 and 2, making Pakistan the first country to take back its coronavirus victims.