ISLAMABAD: Three senior Pakistani diplomats have refused to work under a junior Foreign Service officer - the newly appointed Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua - at headquarters but are ready to work in ambassadorial positions abroad, it was learnt. Sources privy to the development told Business Recorder that the situation has created an imminent administrative crisis within the Foreign Office after the three senior-most foreign service officers informed the government in writing that they would only work under a junior officer if posted abroad.

Those who have conveyed their reservations on the appointment of Tehmina Janjua as the country's first lady Foreign Secretary include Pakistan's High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit, Pakistan Ambassador in Afghanistan Syed Abarar Hussain and a senior officer at the Foreign Office, Ghalib Iqbal.

Basit, who was one of the hopefuls to replace the current Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, has been posted at headquarters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the government nominated Chaudhry as Pakistan's new ambassador to the United States upon expiry of the contract of Jalil Abbas Jilani. Sohail Mehmood has been nominated to replace Basit as Pakistan's new High Commissioner in India.

Abrar has also been recalled to headquarters after completing his three-year tenure as Pakistan's ambassador in Kabul. Zahid Nasrullah has been nominated to be Pakistan's new Ambassador to Afghanistan.

The sources said the senior officers have contended that the newly appointed Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua is junior to them and that no officer likes to work under a junior colleague. However, they have also stated that they are ready to work under the junior officer if posted abroad at ambassadorial positions. Abdul Basit who is currently the senior most foreign services officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to retire next year; he was reportedly under consideration for the post of foreign secretary three years back but the government appointed Aizaz Chaudhry as the foreign secretary.

Usually extensions are given at important stations such as New Delhi and Washington and examples have been Salman Bashir getting an extension as the high commissioner in India. Jalil Abbas Jilani, too, was granted an extension as ambassador in the US. The sources further said although there is no set procedure yet usually an officer who is nearing his retirement age, with less than three years [a tenure for ambassadorial assignment], is given responsibility at headquarters. Non-career diplomats who are political appointees retain their positions as long as they enjoy the blessings of the incumbent government.

"Anyone can be given an extension by the government, career diplomat or non-career... It is the prerogative of the sitting government," said a foreign services officer, adding extensions are usually given in special cases. He further stated that after completing a three-year tenure diplomats can go from one mission to another provided they have enough years of service left. "If they are retiring soon, they can't be sent to an important country for a few months. Since they would require an extension then, this is again a problematic issue," he added. Wirth regard to refusal to serve at the headquarters, the sources pointed out that foreign missions are not fully independent units and are the sub offices of Foreign Office. "So, Foreign Secretary remains the boss whether you are in Pakistan or posted abroad," he added.