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Foreign Ministry Faces Dilemma Over Protocol Request


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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan is grappling with a dilemma after receiving a request to provide protocol services for the son of a senior judge during the latter’s foreign travel. The protocol rules typically do not allow for such preferential treatment, but the ministry has been instructed to fulfill the request, creating a conundrum.

The request for protocol services has been submitted on behalf of Syed Muhammad Ali, the son of Justice Ali Baqar Najafi of the Lahore High Court, who plans to travel to the United States. The request specifically seeks protocol assistance during the immigration process in Abu Dhabi and upon his arrival at New York’s airport, where embassy staff should be responsible for transporting him to his destination. A similar arrangement is requested for his return to Pakistan.

The letter requesting this protocol assistance was sent by the senior additional registrar of the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench, Muhammad Iram Ayaz, who is also a district and sessions judge. It details the schedule of Muhammad Ali’s trip and has been addressed to various officials, including the foreign secretary, Pakistan’s ambassador in the UAE, and the consul general in New York.

According to the established rules, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can facilitate judges when they are on an official visit abroad, but there are no provisions for such assistance during private visits, let alone for their family members. These rules were formulated in 2014 and approved by the federal cabinet. A letter from the MoFA’s protocol division to high courts clarifies that Pakistan’s missions abroad provide appropriate facilitation to honorable judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court during their official visits to foreign countries. However, there are no specific guidelines for providing protocol facilities to judges traveling abroad in a private capacity.

This situation has put the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a challenging position as it navigates between established protocol rules and the special request made on behalf of the judge’s son. The issue underscores the need for clarity and adherence to established protocols in such matters.

The request for protocol services for the son of a senior judge during his foreign trip has presented a dilemma for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it grapples with the tension between existing rules and the specific request. Clarity and adherence to established protocols will be crucial in resolving this situation.

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