Foreign Minister
(From L-R) Rizwan Tariq, Director General Dubai Expo; Consul General Hassan Afzal Khan, Ambassador Afzaal Mahmood with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during his visit to Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has warned his country’s diplomats to stop “indifferent” attitude and serve the community if they want to keep their jobs.

Foreign Minister Qureshi’s stern warning came as he spoke to Pakistani diaspora at a reception held in Dubai on Wednesday as part of his two-day visit to the UAE to tour Expo 2020 Dubai and interact with the Pakistani community. The reception, organised by prominent Pakistani businessman Imran Chaudhry, was attended by Pakistani diplomats including Ambassador Afzaal Mahmood and Consul General Hasan Afzal Khan, as well as a number of leading business community members.

Qureshi also visited Pakistan Pavilion at Expo on Thursday morning and briefed media about his visit. He praised the UAE leadership for providing them a platform to boost economic activities, attract investment, and to portray Pakistan’s culture, heritage, tourism and history to the world at Expo.

Qureshi at Expo
Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

‘Policy shift’

Explaining major a “foreign policy shift” during his speech in line with the new National Security Policy, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan’s foreign policy would now focus more on geo-economic issues instead of geo-politics. “We are convinced that the countries which are not economically strong are not heard at the international level. And even if they are heard, the world does not pay attention,” he noted.

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Serve community

Now, he added, Pakistan foreign missions’ foremost work is to serve the Pakistani diaspora and then they should work on the economic front to bring investment into the country. “Economic diplomacy will be focus of our missions abroad as the performance of our diplomats will be judged on the basis of their services for the community and their success on the economic front. These are their new key performance indicators [KPIs],” he explained.

Unfortunately, the Foreign Minister said, overseas Pakistanis were ignored in the past. “We have instructed our diplomats to forgo colonial-era attitudes, treat overseas Pakistanis with compassion and give respect to our blue-collar workers,” he added.

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan at Grand Ballroom Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah on Feb 16th 2022 Photos Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Blue-collar workers

“Prime Minister Imran Khan always asked me whether our missions are taking good care of the blue-collar workers abroad, and whether they are being provided with good counsellor services. Prime Ministers has clear instructions that only those diplomats who serve the community well, will stay in their jobs,” he reiterated.

Qureshi thanked the 1.6m overseas Pakistanis in the UAE for sending huge remittances of $6.11 billion (around Dh22.44 billion) last year. “We also expect you to take advantage of the government’s attractive investment policies and invest in your country especially in the housing and tourism sectors,” he added.

FM Dubai
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wiith Ambassador Afzaal Mahmood, Rizwan Tariq and community members during his visit to Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020, Dubai on Thursday during a visit

New services

He said the present government in Pakistan has already introduced a number of services to facilitate overseas Pakistanis. “Online renewal of ID card and passports is a big relief. We have also started issuing ‘Power of Attorney’ online as it was a big issue for Pakistanis living abroad. Roshan Digital Account facility has been well received by the overseas Pakistani who have already opened more than 300,000 accounts from 176 countries and remitted over $3.3 billion (around Dh12.12 billion) since the service was launched early last year.”

He urged Pakistanis living abroad not to hesitate to register their complaints against diplomats or any other issues through Prime Minister’s Citizen Portal or Foreign Minister’s Portal. “I ensure you that your complaints will be taken up on priority basis without any delays.”

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan at Grand Ballroom Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah on Feb 16th 2022 Photos Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Solidarity with UAE

Foreign Minister also expressed solidarity with the UAE and condemned the recent Houthi attacks. “We stand by the UAE and strongly condemn the Houthi attacks. We also appreciate the UAE government for taking good care of the families of the victims,” he added.

National Security Policy

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Imran Khan’s government has launched the first ever Pakistan’s National Security Policy with consensus. Pakistan’s National Security Policy focuses on safety, security, dignity and prosperity of all our citizens.

“It focuses on economic security as the core of national security. Pakistan believes in a policy of peace at home and abroad, this is why we have continuously pursued a policy of seeking peace and stability in the region. Going forward, we will combine our focus on geo-strategy with more emphasis on geo-economics.

“On the economic front, Pakistan will work to improve its external imbalances. That is why we are focusing on building economic partnerships with our friends in the region and around the world,” Qureshi explained.