Friday, April 6, 2012

Story of Adnan Randhawa, foriegn service official, who resigned over Raymond Davis issue


ISLAMABAD: Besides the famous ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who resigned over the Raymond Davis affair, there was a silent officer in the Foreign Service as well, with a conscience, who also quit in protest but was never heard of.

In eight years, he joined three services, all through competitive exams but his conscience pulled him out of them each time, the latest being the Foreign Service from which he resigned in protest against the release of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor charged with killing of three Pakistanis.

Adnan Randhawa is a restless soul, not ready to reconcile with the decline of the civil service where hypocrisy reigns supreme, corruption as well as deception is rampant, and dissenting views are killed with a stroke of pen. Now this disillusioned youth has quietly started law practice in the district court of Islamabad, saying good-bye to government service.

Neither could he make headlines like Shah Mehmood Qureshi who apparently had resigned 'only' over Raymond Davis case nor was this his first resignation in life, and has joined the list of the country's unsung heroes.

An interview with him gives a rare insight into the working of Foreign Office, the country's 'cozy' relations with China, and Pakistan's sheepish attitude towards the US. All he says is dictated by his personal experiences and observation.

"I understand the Foreign Ministry has scored the highest marks in moral bankruptcy. It is polluted with the officers who would not think for a while compromising on national issues and only for petty gains," he said in a two-page resignation letter after Raymond's release.

In hand-written Urdu, the resignation letter reflects on his nationalistic perspective. "While studying Chinese language, I learned one thing: a country can't progress if its people shy away from their own language," he told The News in an interview.

Adnan was deputed on the desk dealing with Raymond's case short before the release of this CIA contractor. Instead of getting first hand information from within the ministry, he would learn about the latest through media. The ministry first misguided the minister whereas I was kept in dark, he said.

"Right from the start of Raymond's case, I felt upset with the Ministry's conduct. It first cheated on the minister as he took a clear stand after consulting with the senior officers who later started dilly-dallying tactics before the court. A slain's wife committed suicide that only left me crying on the general apathy of the nation," said his resignation letter.

Adnan scored 12th position in CSS exam that he cleared in 2005. Previously he entered into prison service and then excise & taxation department through competitive exam and resigned from both due to rampant corruption.

As he joined the Foreign Service hoping a difference, the reality dawned on him about the standing of the country in the eyes of two friends/allies, China and USA as he got an opportunity dealing with them.

The official indifference to the country and corruption of varied nature sickened him further. "Office timings are 8 to 3 at Headquarter but not even sweepers reach at 8 and no one can dare to leave at 3," he told The News. Officers usually come at 10 or 11, and then they disturb the whole system of timings, he explained. "Same is copied while posted abroad."

His first hand accounts are an eye-opener for the whole Pakistani nation as to how the country and its leaders are treated abroad. On relations with China, he got to know about the reality when sent there for two-year language course.

President Asif Zardari frequently visited China during Adnan's stay there. During each coming visit, the level of dignitaries receiving President Zardari reduced, he said. "It was a sheer disrespect but our embassy, instead of requesting the president to stop visiting China in such a mad way, was trying to find a precedent which they could convey back to Pakistan that other heads of states have also visited so frequently."

What they could find out, Adnan explained, was perhaps an example of a Thai President but that too was so severely criticized that they dropped this idea. During Zardari's visit at Guangzhou I was a camp officer in the hotel where he was staying. No Chinese newspaper covered his visit and only story about Pakistan that day was about Baitullah Mehsood.

As to how Pakistani awards are treated abroad that our rulers madly throw on every one, Adnan shares his experience. "On 23rd March ceremony which was held in one of the most expensive hotels of Beijing, the highest award was to be given to a Chinese General who did not come to collect it and instead sent an officer of Colonel-rank to receive it. What a disgrace."

Narrating an experience of Chinese exhibition inaugurated by President Hu accompanied by all powerful ministers, Adnan said there was not a single portrait of Chinese leader shaking hand with a Pakistani leader. However, there were pictures at display of Chinese leader shaking hands with Indian leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Shastri. "Then I saw Chinese leaders with Yasir Arafat, and even with an Omani president besides with leaders of many other unimportant countries. I was shocked why the hell Pakistan is missing."

That exhibition was silently conveying a message that we are nobody for them and they don't consider relationship with us as an achievement as we do, Adnan explained.

Adnan said China did not issue airport passes to Pakistanis who are lower that third secretary, notwithstanding repeated requests by Pakistani embassy. In contrast, Pakistan issues passes to as many Chinese diplomats here as are demanded. When I came back to Pakistan and was posted on the China desk, I refused to accept every request by the Chinese in terms of passes but "my boss issued those passes to them."

In terms of misuse of resources by Pakistani mission abroad, he referred to an instance of the country's mission in Jordan where Pakistan ambassador who during the visit of his friend, not only deputed staff and vehicles inside Jordan but in several adjoining countries as well. "How all those expenses are justified? What the hell audit teams who visit embassies do except getting dinners, parties, discos, massages and bribes?"

Regarding his experience with the US diplomats, Adnan said upon joining the service, he found hundreds of applications for visa extensions were pending on desk, mostly comprising those who did not provide all requisite information. A high level meeting first directed me not to forward to the interior ministry unless the desired information is provided and later pressurized by the same officers, I was asked to do otherwise.

The country's embassy in Washington and consulates probably have less than 100 staff in contrast with above 700 Americans in Islamabad embassy alone, Adnan noted. My experiences led me to the conclusion that all the important position of Foreign Office has been occupied by the persons who safeguard US interests very diligently, he said.

"And those at less important positions are desperate to do that job if given an opportunity. There is complete institutional and moral decay."

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