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Bilawal, Hina Away From Country During Swiss FM’s Visit

Only an acting secretary welcomed visiting foreign minister in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, who came to Pakistan recently on an official visit, has returned to his country with his delegation after three days of engagements here.

During his tour, he met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman and officials and heads of government institutions, along with his delegation. But he could not meet his Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is in America on a private visit currently, which was part of his scheduled engagements.

Similarly, due to the unavailability of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar in Islamabad, the foreign minister of Switzerland also could not meet her. Not only this, the foreign secretary was also not available to welcome the visiting foreign minister. That was why Special Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Acting Foreign Secretary Cyrus Sajjad Qazi welcomed the visiting minister and his delegation.

It was a very objectionable diplomatic process and against the diplomatic requirements and etiquette. Usually, at the arrival of any foreign minister, if the counterpart is not present in the country, he/she must be represented by the minister of state. But in the current situation, neither the minister of state for foreign affairs nor the foreign secretary were available to welcome the visiting minister. Although the country of the visiting ambassador did not express any displeasure at the state of affairs openly, it must be a matter of concern for the host country.

Meanwhile, the incident of the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden was condemned and protested by Pakistan at all levels, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also summoned the Swedish ambassador over the religious tragedy. But on the occasion, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto was in the US for his private engagements and Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar was also absent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A so-called formal protest was also made to the Swedish ambassador by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It would have been better had the foreign minister or the minister of state for foreign affairs talked to the ambassador and conveyed him the religious sentiments of the people of Pakistan.

These two incidents raise questions about the professionalism and diplomatic credibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, who left Tokyo for a private visit to America on July 4 after completing his official visit to Japan, and it was told that his unofficial visit would complete in a week. On July 11, one week of his private engagements had completed, but there was no information about his return to the homeland.

During this time, no information about ministerial or political engagements of Pakistan’s foreign minister in the US came to the fore, although People’s Party sources said Bilawal Bhutto was supposed to meet US officials and attend think tanks discussions. There is no information about his return to the country and apparently his contact with Pakistan at the government and political level is cut off currently.

On the other hand, attempts to contact State Minister Hina Rabbani Khar remained unsuccessful. During the past week, she was seen nowhere, neither in the cabinet meetings, nor in the budget meeting at the National Assembly. Her staff also expressed ignorance about her by avoiding any conversation in this regard.

Source: The News



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