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Quiet Diplomacy by Jamsheed Marker

Quiet Diplomacy by Jamsheed Marker

The book has already received international praise. First published in 2010 by the Oxford University Press, Karachi, it is now in its 3rd, edition and is widely available at major bookstalls of Pakistan. It is only a matter of time before it is translated in other languages, especially in Urdu and possibly in French.
In this age of booming journalism, when superlatives are so extravagantly used, paying sincere tribute to a superb work of a larger than life personality is the most difficult task. When a chef d’ouvre by a highly respected personality, such as Ambassador Marker has been keenly reviewed and lavished with praise from experts such as Stanley Wolpert and friends and colleagues such as Kofi Annan, Roedad Khan, Mueen Afzal and many more, any further comment appears limp and repetitious.
Since I have the privilege of knowing the Marker family, I felt that a simple interview about Ambassador Jamsheed Marker’s life and book could possibly throw more light on the dynamic and endearing qualities of one of Pakistan’s leading personalities.
However, Ambassador Marker shies away from question of benefits accrued to Pakistan during his appointments. Besides, always calming stormy international waters during the many crises in Pakistan – separation of East and West wings, the nuclear issue, etc., Ambassasdor Marker was directly instrumental in securing several economic advantages, such as the first Russian Steel Mill.

Of all your 19 foreign postings – nine direct and 10 concurrent – which ones do you consider the most enjoyable and the most fruitful for Pakistan?

Jamsheed Marker: “On a personal level, I enjoyed Paris the most, given the city’s beauty: architecture, museums, culture, arts….and of course, France is a beautiful country. During my four years in Paris, I became friends with great artists, such as Zubin Mehta and witnessed La Traviata at the Paris Opera. I attended rehearsals and spent as much time as possible at his various concerts. It was like sitting on the floor of Sistine Chapel and watching Michaelangelo paint the ceiling!
Moscow too in 1969 and the early ‘1970’s was very impressive. I was destined to frequently visit the formidable and fascinating edifices of the Kremlin palaces and museums and their display of priceless icons, paintings and museums. In fact, I found beauty and unusual features in most countries where I was based.”
You were described by the US State Department as ‘tough, shrewd and cultivated and named ‘the Linchpin of US-Pak Alliance. What prompted the US to say this?
JM: “Both the New York and Washington postings were fascinating eye-openers. I had never experienced such an open society, with four major power centres – the State Department, the White House, the Congress and the media – and the fifth is the US Industry. In Washington, the other power houses are the IMF and the World Bank. One had to learn to deal with each of these completely separately.
Quite early, I realised that I had to learn to ‘USE THE SYSTEM’. When I first arrived in Washington, I noted the need of a publicity agent and hired one. My embassy staff in Washington was also outstanding. They won the confidence of the staffers, which led to us even helping them to draft resolutions! In any other country we would have been declared personae non-grata!
Having said this, I must admit that the USSR posting was my toughest assignment. During the height of the Cold War, I represented a country that was friendly with the two major blocks – the United States and China, which the great communist super power – the USSR – was at loggerheads with! They were keen to improve relations with Asian countries, but on their own terms.
When Pakistan headed the Security Council chair during the Bosnian Muslim crises, you skillfully passed the ‘mother of all Resolutions’ to save the Muslims from total annihilation. Is this fact well known and still remembered?
JM: “I can’t say: but it still gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

From where did you get the idea of CHIAROSCURO, followed by ‘MEANWHILE IN PAKISTAN’, in every chapter of the book?

JM: “It is entirely my own.”
Another interesting feature of your book are the many sayings and proverbs at the beginning of each chapter – ‘Ex Africa, semper aliquid novi/ and Desmond Tutu’s ‘When the missionaries first came to Africa, they had the Bible in their hand and we had the land. When we opened our eyes, we had the Bible and they had the land!’ What gave you this idea?
JM: “I have always been interested in reading a great number of books and these sayings stayed with me.”

You write about incidents and personalities with so much precision and detail. Did you keep diaries from day one of your foreign service, or do you recall these details from the top of your head?

JM: “My diaries contain just dates and appointments. I have a few records of some meetings, such as the Security Council debates, as well as some critical meetings in Moscow with Brezhnev, Kosygin, etc. However, the rest is by memory and from old pictures, My family was also instrumental in reminding me of past incidents, especially my brother Minoo, who is a historian and he reminded me of several points when he went through the draft.”
Quiet Diplomacy is already in its third edition. Have you thought of having it translated into other languages, especially Urdu?
JM: “No, not as yet, but that is certainly a thought.”

Throughout your book you mention the high calibre of the Foreign Office staff and your friends in Pakistan. Whom among these do you consider as outstanding?

JM: “Too many to mention here, but Iqbal Ahmed, Jumbo Kharas, Mir Akram, Ashraf Qazi, Mueen Afzal, Tariq Fahim, Tayyab Siddiqui, Aneesuddin Ahmed and so many more have enriched my life. I would not have been able to achieve my goals without them.”

About the Author 

Born on 24th Nov., 1922 in Hyderabad, India ,Jamsheed Marker was educated at Doon School. Dehradon and at Forman Christian College in Lahore. During World War II, he served in the Royal Indian Naval Volunteers Reserve in Burma. He then joined his family business and served on the boards of public and private banking and shipping corporations.
In 1964, Jamsheed Marker was called upon by the Government of Pakistan to serve in Pakistan’s Foreign Service and has been the Ambassador to Ghana, Mali, Romania and Bulgaria, the former USSR and Finland, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, France, and the USA as well as the United Nations in New York. He has served as Pakistan’s envoy to 19 countries and left an ever-lasting impression of friendship and goodwill wherever he went.
He is the recipient of several accolades and awards, starting with the 1939/45 The Burma Star. The War Sercice Medal and the Victory Medal, Sitara Quaid-e-Azam and Hilal-i-Imtiaz from Pakistan, The Madarski Konnik from the Republic of Bulgaria, the Grand Officier de l’Ordre de Merite from the Republic of France. In token of his leadership of the Group of 77 at the UN, he was decorated with The Grand Cross of the Order of San Carlos by the Republic of Columbia.

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