Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison has reached a historical agreement with India in the field of science & technology, defense, and maritime security on the 4th of June 2020 during a virtual summit with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
PM Morrison’s visit to India was scheduled for last January, but canceled due to bushfire in Australia, followed by COVID 19 situation.
India and Australia are attempting to counter the rising power of China in the region. China is significantly growing its expanding belt and road initiative. In recent times, China has expanded its military presence in the South China Sea, which is an alarming situation for the United States and Australia. Therefore, the United States wants Australia to extend her relationship with India, especially in maritime time activities in the Indian Ocean region. India also desires to have free trade with Australia. United States invited Australia and India in G7, which has been scheduled to be held this year at Camp David. Therefore, it should have been noticed by the Pakistan foreign office through their diplomats in Australia and counter to the Indian plan for India-Australia relations.
Building relations with Australia could have been an opportunity for Pakistan, particularly in maritime, education, science & technology. Australia is one of the few countries where Pakistan established its embassy in 1948 before India established its relations after the partition of the sub-continent. There was a time when Pakistan had closer ties with Australia compare to Australian relations with India. In the last 40 years or so, there has been a continuous decline in Pakistan-Australian relations. It demonstrates the incompetence and ineffective progress of the Pakistani mission in Australia.
The growing interest of Australia to have strong relations with India in various fields must have been known to Pakistani diplomat a long time ago. So, the point is what Pakistani diplomats have done in the last few years or so. The Australian national media gives India significant space while Pakistanis in Australia hardly see any story on Pakistan-Australia relations. When the news broke out in the Australian media about two years ago regarding the planned visit of the Australian Prime Minister to India, did Pakistani diplomat in Canberra or Sydney tried to invite the Australian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan when will visit to India?
Primary Role of diplomats is to create opportunities for their country in trade, economy, science & technology, and other areas available in the country where they are appointed. Talking about the progress of Pakistani diplomats in Australia concerning Pakistan-Australia relations in trade, science & technology, education, maritime or other areas and compare with the work of Indian diplomats for India, it is highly disappointing what Pakistani diplomats have done for India.
Pakistanis living in Australia see the productivity of Pakistani diplomats is in socializing with so-called Pakistani community leaders, attending parties and community functions as VIPs. Indeed stamping visas and renew passport are their administrative duties; nevertheless, their real job is to promote and extend relations of Pakistan with Australia in different fields. Attending small and large functions as Honourable Guests, having photo-sessions with the community members, and promoting their engagement with community selected members on social media, and now chatting online with a couple of so-called leaders and journalists are not the primary function of the diplomats.
In the current situation of COVID 19, like others, Pakistanis in Australia has been gone through a challenging time, especially over 12,000 Pakistani students gone through financial crises. Pakistani students lost jobs and have no money left to pay their bills, rent for accommodations, pay college/university fees, and buy foods to survive. Pakistani diplomat office announced that they would help them and make a travel arrangement so that they can return to their homes in Pakistan. Then they arrange two flights and charged $3000 airfare to these poor, jobless students. They have announced an emergency phone number and formed a committee to look after Pakistani students and visitors’ issues. But and as a matter of fact, Pakistanis found diplomat offices phone number never be available, committee supposed to help Pakistani community composed on those people who were seen busy in the photo session for self-projection. There are some sincere individual Pakistanis, and groups help Pakistani students, and those needed urgent attention using their resources and fund collections.
Recently, Pakistani foreign minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, was engaged online on social media set-up by the Pakistani High Commission with local Pakistani figures claimed as the representatives of Pakistani community in Australia. First of all, this was not the status of a foreign minister of Pakistan to appear on a social media type online arrangement. If this was the wish of the Foreign Minister Qureshi, then his meeting should have been arranged with the Australian national media or with prominent & experienced Pakistani journalist working in Australia. It was not a difficult job for the diplomat to find who is actively involved and genuinely represent the over 50,000 Pakistanis in Australia. Secondly, if the foreign minister had to connect with the Pakistanis in Australia, his meeting should have been announced in the community through prominent and genuine media and community platforms.
PM Khan’s slogan was to bring change in Pakistan before he came to power, but now after nearly two years, no change has been seen in the corrupt and inefficient culture of diplomatic offices. I have been watching the activities of Pakistani diplomats for the last at least 25 years in Australia, and when I compare their output with the output of Indian diplomats and how Indians have built relations with Australia, I feel shame.
The majority of overseas Pakistanis demonstrated support to Imran Khan, and his party Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf before Imran Khan came to power. Therefore, Khan’s government has to look at what is happening in Pakistani diplomatic offices in Australia and make things right.