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Fletcher Alumnus appointed Foreign Secretary of Pakistan

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 07:01

Aizaz Chaudhry (F’90) recently assumed his position as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan after being cleared for appointment by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December.

Chaudhry’s appointment is particularly timely due to the complex political situation in Pakistan, according to Andrew Hess, a professor of diplomacy and director of the Southwest-Central Asia and Islamic Civilization Program at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

“Given the complex set of issues facing the region, we are thrilled and honored that a Fletcher alumnus holds this key position and look forward to seeing what he is able to accomplish,” Admiral James Stavridis, dean of the Fletcher School, told the Daily in an email.

Major issues that Chaudhry inherits include growing violence in Pakistani cities and around Southwest Asia, and United States and Pakistani relations, Hess explained. 

“This is an important appointment to say the least, considering the political developments in Southwest Asia,” Hess said. “[Chaudhry] will have to deal with that because these developments will really shape the outcome of Pakistani politics.”

Within Pakistan, violence in major cities — specifically Karachi, the country’s largest city that contributes 40 percent of Pakistani gross domestic product (GDP) alone — is an issue Chaudhry will be expected to address, Hess explained. 

“It really undermines the power of the government if they can’t control their major cities,” Hess said.

Internationally, managing relations between the United States and Pakistan will be one of Chaudhry’s largest responsibilities, according to Hess.

“One major issue [in U.S.-Pakistani relations] is whether Pakistan is cooperating with [the] U.S. military presence,” Hess said.

Hess referenced the differing interests of the United States and Pakistan in regard to Afghanistan as another point of dispute between the two countries.

“Pakistan’s position in Afghanistan directly supports Pakistani interests, while the United States is more interested in creating an autonomous government outside of our national interest,” Hess said.

Chaudhry joins other Fletcher graduates in government positions in Southwest Asia.  Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan Joseph Dunford (F’92) is also a Fletcher graduate, according to Hess. Hess expressed confidence that this connection could improve communication between the countries.

“I think the fact that [Chaudhry] was educated in the U.S. and that they’re both Fletcher grads creates some sort of an important contact between him and Dunford,” Hess said.

Chaudhry has held other high-profile diplomatic positions in Pakistan, including Foreign Office spokesman and Additional Foreign Secretary, and was Director General for South Asia during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, according to Indian-English newspaper The Indian Express. 

While Indian newspapers identify Chaudhry as a moderate, Hess explained that Chaudry steers clear of direct party identification since he deals with the international relations of Pakistan, rather than domestic politics.

“He’d probably describe himself as a professional diplomat,” Hess said. “That’s common of diplomats because they don’t want to be to be tied to a party. They don’t want to walk into a negotiation with the expectation that they are representing just one party, but rather the interests of Pakistan in general.”

Stavridis explained that The Fletcher School’s approach to teaching encourages students to actively participate in international diplomacy.

“The Fletcher School’s multidisciplinary approach to international affairs prepares graduates to solve complex problems that transcend borders and disciplines,” Stavridis said.

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