Remarks by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood

Director Programme, Foreign Service Academy,
Ambassador Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Additional Secretary, Admn
Position holders of 40th Specialized Diplomatic Course,
Trainee officers of 42nd Specialized Diplomatic Course,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you all today as we recognize the impressive achievements of three young diplomats.

The Foreign Service Academy has come a long way since the time I was a probationary officer.

In those days, we were trained in a more modest establishment that was called the Foreign Service Training Institute. I am glad that young officers today have access to this much more spacious and better-equipped facility in the heart of Islamabad’s Diplomatic Enclave.

The Ministry will of course continue to provide all possible support in the discharge of FSA’s crucial mission.

Let me at the outset congratulate the young officers who received awards for their outstanding performance. This is obviously a moment of pride for them and their families, whose support is always the most critical factor in such success.

I want to commend Shahnawaz, Fatima and Aleena – the awards you are receiving today are rightful recognition of the hard work and dedication that you have demonstrated during the training. I have no doubt that your achievement will inspire you to aspire towards even greater heights of professional excellence – both in the Ministry and in the Missions you would serve abroad.

I am also pleased to get the opportunity for interface with the probationary officers of the most recent batch of the Foreign Service of Pakistan. I wish to extend a warm welcome to you to the Foreign Service family. You should take pride in becoming the latest entrants to a fraternity that has a long and proud history of providing meritorious service to the nation and safeguarding and promoting our national interests.

Over the years, Pakistani diplomats have proven their mettle on the world stage, earning praise for their skills and professionalism, from friend and foe alike. This is despite the relatively small size of our Service, and the many constraints and challenges inherent in representing a developing country. I have no doubt that all of you will live up to the high standards set by your predecessors.

You will find that the Foreign Service of Pakistan is not just a career or a profession. It is a higher calling that demands dedication, hard work, and a commitment to the pursuit of excellence.

Diplomacy in the 21st century is at once more challenging and more rewarding. Modern communications and social media have drastically shortened response times, and put aspects of diplomacy–that were once conducted quietly behind closed doors–right in the public spotlight. I am sure that your time at the Academy would have sufficiently equipped you to deal with the challenges presented by a changed world.

At the same time, I would stress that in essential respects, the expectations from professional diplomats remain unchanged. Good diplomats must still have a deep understanding of the regional and international environment. They should have a sense of history, be able to analyze the present, and develop insights for the future. They should understand their country’s core interests and be capable of effectively protecting and advancing them. Above all, they should never stop learning and always strive to improve themselves as professionals. In the end, there is no substitute for hard work, persistence and substance.

I am sure that the Foreign Service Academy has provided you with the requisite toolkit to navigate the challenges that lie ahead.

I would like to appreciate the efforts of former Director General Ambassador Zahid Nasrullah, who recently retired after a distinguished career, and Director Programme Asima Rabbani for taking our young diplomats under their wings and ensuring that they are ready for the journey that lies ahead.

Finally, I would again like to congratulate the award winners. I pray that they and indeed, all our young officers continue to shine brightly and be a source of pride for the institution and the nation. I wish them every success in the future.

I thank you.

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