How the diplomats are trapped into wrongdoing (2)

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Few years ago, an ambassador of a country was recalled after his involvement was proved in misuse of his house rent facility; another was recalled because of immoral activities

Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

There are some other European missions as well, which have witnessed such kind of thefts or visa scandals. Investigations in above mentioned cases proved that without the involvement of the locals and the embassy staff, especially dealing with the visa affairs, such incidents would have not been possible. Apart from visa thing, certain diplomats, as soon as they arrive in Pakistan, get themselves involved in various other illegal practices such as misuse of liquor quotas; import of duty free cars and in some cases misuse of house rent facility and having illicit affairs with local ladies, to mention a few.

Few years ago, an ambassador was recalled after his involvement was proved in misuse of his house rent facility. The said ambassador got a lavish and spacious house on the Margalla Road on a cheaper rent but he charged double rent from his headquarters. The extra amount went to his and his Pakistani facilitator’s pocket. The Pakistani facilitator, in that case, happened to be a lady who is still around.

Similarly quite recently the Bulgarian ambassador’s services were terminated after he was found guilty of misusing his diplomatic status. The said ambassador imported duty free cars by availing diplomatic status but actually he had bought those cars for Pakistani people and accepted huge bribe from them. This is in addition to his misuse of liquor quotas. By the way, when it comes to misuse of liquor quotas, both Muslim and non-Muslim embassies have equally benefited, of course with the help of officials from the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some of them are now serving their term behind the bars.

Prime Minister Imran Khan recently rebuked the Foreign Office officials for what he called sluggish approach towards various issues. The MOFA bosses, after this statement showed a strong reaction. But Prime Minister was partially right in his criticism of the MOFA administration. Frankly, for last so many years, I have not heard any goods words about our MOFA officers. Most of the complaints pertain to the Protocol Division that still continues to take heavy toll on the foreign missions.

Moreover, there have also been instances where local liquor importers used residences of diplomats to store their consignments. Since the diplomatic residences have immunity from being searched or raided therefore some people benefited a lot and made optimum use of their close links with their diplomatic friends. An ambassador of an Asian country, in the recent past, was recalled after it was proved he had facilitated storage of liquor caches at his official residence. Moral turpitude was yet another reason of recalling of that particular top diplomat.

So much so, there are many examples of diplomats and defence attaches being called back or investigated for having illicit relations with Pakistani females. In the past, a very senior military officer who was posted in Pakistan as his country’s defence adviser was proceeded against back home for having relations with a Pakistani lady and sharing secret information. Interestingly, that lady is still around and continues to lure attention of all and sundry with her ‘remaining’ charm.

Let us play as the devil’s advocate. The officers who fall prey to temptations here in Pakistan otherwise may be honest officers back home. Let us admit that corruption in Pakistan is deep-rooted and systematic. One needs extra-ordinary guts and will power to resist such temptations. It is often said that even angels would fall prey to such temptations if they are posted on a post that involves money!!

Summing up, there is no dearth of honest, credible and men of character within the diplomatic community and even in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I personally know many diplomats, Pakistani and foreigners, who had the opportunity of making their fortunes through illegal practices but they never did it simply because their dignity and sense of duty never allowed them to do that. Corruption is perhaps the biggest challenge the government of the day is faced with. The Prime Minister has a clear understanding of what this menace has done to this country. The will to nip this malady in the bud is there. The only thing needed is an honest team that could translate prime minister’s vision into reality.