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Foreign Office lacks capacity to handle diplomacy: former defence secretary

KLF session discussed challenges diplomacy faces in IT age

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 2, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Mar 2, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

Photo: Asad Shakeel/SAMAA Digital

Diplomacy today is the most secure job but we face a very different and difficult set of challenges that our predecessors never faced, said British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner as he set the premise of the discussion on ‘Challenges to International Diplomacy Today’.

The panel at the Karachi Literature Festival on Friday comprised Turner, former diplomat Shahid Amin and former defence secretary Tariq Waseem Ghazi.

They agreed that the flow of information and misinformation has brought new challenges to the horizon and that the world was fast changing.

Amin said diplomacy requires expertise.”It’s a specialized subject that requires a certain academic background and experience, just like the fields of engineering and medicine,” Amin said. He added that when you let a charlatan work as a doctor, you should know what it will bring.

Turner agreed and said the problems faced by diplomats where they need to make quick decisions are already very difficult otherwise they would’ve been resolved before getting to them. 

Discussing diplomacy and sensitivity of matters associated with it, Ghazi said information leaks compromise international relations and make it difficult for diplomats. “When leaks such as Wikileaks happen, people feel restrained and don’t talk. Confidentiality is of key importance and must be maintained,” he said.

But the Foreign Office, he claimed, doesn’t have the capacity to handle diplomacy in the digital age. “The military has to do the work of the Foreign Office because they lack the capacity to do so,” Ghazi responded when asked why the military should decide foreign affair matters and set the ground.

On whether diplomacy is a viable solution to avoid conflict, specifically after the Iran nuclear deal fallout, Ghazi said that whoever is in line with global agenda will be excused for committing murder, but those who don’t align themselves will be held accountable for even the smallest of errors. 

“The world isn’t a utopia. It’s a realist world. If the US wants to go to war again, it will create a post-event justification. Weapons of mass destruction and terrorism do not really matter.”

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