Tehmina Janjua is a brilliant and intelligent career diplomat with excellent performance throughout her service. She rose to the office of the foreign secretary in March 2017; thus became the first woman foreign secretary of Pakistan. Janjua replaced Aizaz Chaudhry, a career diplomat who was taken up charge as the new ambassador to the United States. Janjua was long considered a favourite for the position. Having joined the Foreign Service in 1984, Janjua’s experience has mainly been in multilateral diplomacy.
At the time of her appointment as Foreign Secretary, she was serving as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. Having joined the Foreign Service in 1984, her experience has mainly been in multilateral diplomacy. Her only remarkable bilateral posting has been as ambassador to Rome from December 2011 to October 2015. Among her other overseas postings are stints at the UN in New York and Geneva. She had a long posting at the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe desk at the start of her Foreign Service career. At the headquarters, she worked as a director at the foreign secretary’s office, director general strategic planning, and as spokesperson in 2011.
Since taking charge of the top diplomat office, she has been vocal in highlighting Pakistani narrative on almost every international forum or in bilateral meetings with other countries. For example in March last year, a Russian delegation led by Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF) Deputy Secretary M M Popov, accompanied by SCRF Assistant Secretary A N Venediktov and T P Boykov discussed defence and security relations and expressed satisfaction on the current level of cooperation. She elaborated on Pakistan’s improved security situation in the country and ongoing counter terrorism efforts and also expressed satisfaction at the increasing military and technical cooperation between Pakistan and Russia. The talks were marked by convergence of views between the two sides on various global and regional issues of mutual interest. The Russian side expressed deep appreciation and acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. They also recognised the need for joint efforts for peace, security and stability in the region.
In a similarly in May last year, during the inauguration ceremony of Legal Experts Group of SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Islamabad, Tehmina said that Pakistan was aware of the threats posed by terrorism in the region. Pakistan is willing to cooperate with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states for elimination of terrorism from the region. Legal experts from the eight member states including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, as well as representatives of the SCO-RATS Executive Committee will participate in the meeting, which continued till May 26.
The dignitaries discussed terrorist threats facing the region as well as to enhance counter terrorism cooperation between SCO member states. Speaking on the inaugural day, the foreign secretary said Pakistan has lost thousands of citizens, security personnel and has suffered economic losses worth billions due to the country’s fight against terrorism. She said terrorism could not be linked with any country, religion or nation. Pakistan has been able to turn the tide through comprehensive efforts of past several years and supported by a firm domestic political consensus, she added. She said SCO holds special significance for Pakistan and the country takes pride in becoming a full member of the organisation which offers a unique new model of inter-state cooperation for peace, security, connectivity and sustainable development.
Feeling the sensitivity and importance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for Pakistan, in August last year Foreign Secretary said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would continue to be taken as a priority by the new government; the most important thing we need to underscore is that whoever is in power in Pakistan, there is a clear commitment to the continuation of the CPEC as an important project. It brings mutual benefit and prosperity for the people of Pakistan and hence there is a commitment for this project. As people say, it is a game changer for the region.She told a delegation of five Chinese media representatives during their visit to the ministry of foreign affairs that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had emerged as the largest political party in the National Assembly, but government formation process will take time. We see the CPEC not only as an initiative between two countries but also an initiative to help our entire region in the development. The CPEC has achieved significant success and enjoys cross-border political support. We continue to take it as a priority.
Defusing concerns, Janjua firstly expressed her appreciation for China to launch the first major project of BRI in Pakistan, saying, There is a consensus across the board in Pakistan on the importance of the CPEC, both for China and Pakistan. Director General (China) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ayesha Ali was also present on the occasion. With the visit taking place just a few days after the former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan won his country’s parliamentary elections, questions from the Chinese media delegation were focused on any possible changes the election result may bring to the China-Pakistan signature cooperation project.
Moreover, in November last, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation in 11th Round of Pakistan-Japan Bilateral Political Consultations held in Tokyo where both Pakistan and Japan renewed commitment of bilateral ties. Pakistan and Japan, while reaffirming the importance of their relationship also expressed satisfaction at the present state of bilateral
The consultations provided a good opportunity to the two sides to explore new possibilities for further strengthening cooperation, especially in the spheres of trade and economy, investment, people-to-people interactions, human resource development and education. The two sides discussed the evolving peace and security situation in their respective regions. The foreign secretary briefed on Pakistan’s efforts towards promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Indian atrocities and human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir were also highlighted.
During her stay in Tokyo, the Foreign Secretary also called on Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Norikazu Suzuki, and Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeo Akiba. During the meetings, both sides reiterated the importance of the enhancing mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation to realize the true potential of the relationship. Both countries cooperate on bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual concern and interest.
In December the last, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Tehmina Janjua said that India has held the cooperative body South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) hostage. She also asserted that India has become a hurdle in the way of Pakistan hosting the SAARC summit.
Recently, Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had announced that India will not partake in the SAARC conference if it is held in Pakistan. Janjua while highlighting the strength of Pakistan’s ties with all global powers said that Pak-China relations are exemplary which further received a boost by the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China. Reiterating the policy towards India she added that Pakistan is willing to resolve all issues including Kashmir on the negotiation table. India is promoting unconventional weapons, she pointed out.
She further said that a solution to the Afghan conflict is highly imperative and Pakistan is in favour of a dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Earlier, the foreign affairs secretary had said while addressing a ceremony marking the 34th SAARC Charter Day that all the member countries need to work together with cohesion to transform the lives of their peoples and alleviate poverty from the region. She added that Pakistan continues to believe in the viability of SAARC and by adhering to the principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect amongst member countries, we can guide the organization towards achieving our cherished goal of a prosperous and developed South Asian Region. Janju added that it is in the same spirit that Pakistan had made preparations to host the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad.
A few days later, Speaking at a conference, Foreign Secretary said that Indian perpetuating dynamic rivalry and New Delhi’s negative attitude was not only unhelpful for improving bilateral ties, but was also stopping South Asia from making progress and attaining peace. India, by refusing to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad, was holding the regional body’s summit process hostage. Referring to India’s approach on ties with Pakistan, Janjua said India was spinning hatred and perpetuating dynamic rivalry. This, she maintained, was not only unhelpful for improving Pakistan-India ties, but was also stopping South Asia from making progress and attaining peace.
She regretted that India tried to drown in controversy Pakistan’s gesture of agreeing to the Kartarpur Corridor, for facilitating Sikh pilgrimage to one of their holiest sites, due to its domestic politics, but Islamabad ignored the Indian negativity and decided to stay the course. We are convinced that we will continue to try for peace and stability in the region, she said. About the new Pakistan government’s policy on India, Janjua spoke of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first address to the nation after the July elections in which he had offered to take two steps for every single step that India would take for normalisation of ties with Pakistan. She said Khan in his letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi expressed willingness to discuss all issues that were part of the ‘Composite Dialogue’. Unfortunately we haven’t seen the kind of reciprocation that was required, she said.