By: QUDSSIA AKHLAQUE
ISLAMABAD: In a promising development on the diplomatic front, this year for the first time a young Hazara woman joined the Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) that could mark the beginning of more to follow suit.
Sughra Changezi who hails from Quetta is a member of the latest batch and recently embarked on her career as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Currently, she is working as an assistant director at the OIC Division.
Changezi is the second woman officer from the country’s largest province to enter FSP. Fareeha Bugti was the first woman from the province to join the service in 2005 while several male officers from Balochistan have already made their mark as diplomats. Bugti is now on her first diplomatic assignment abroad as the first secretary at Pakistan’s UN Mission in Geneva. Bugti and Changezi are both known to be bright and promising officers.
Another notable development at MOFA in the last few years has been induction of the first visually impaired person, Saima Saleem, in the foreign service. Saima, who was among the top 10 position holders in the CSS examination, was allowed by the top leadership of the previous PPP-led government to join the foreign service in 2009.
At present, the largest number of serving women officers at MOFA belongs to the Punjab, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Sindh. Notably, from the AJK only one woman is in the foreign service, but none from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas/Northern Areas.
Tasnim Aslam, additional secretary, Europe Division, at the headquarters, is the lone woman officer from AJK among a total of 68 women in the service. Tasnim who became the first female officer to be appointed spokesperson for MOFA in 2005 has held two ambassadorial assignments – in Italy and Morocco. No woman from AJK has joined the foreign service during the last 28 years though a number of men from there have been inducted in the service during this period.
Women at MOFA constitute 14 percent of the total officers’ strength, according to the latest data obtained by The Nation. Of the current 490 serving officers 68 are women i.e. one in every seven officers is a woman.