Monday May 20, 2024

Turner given senior diplomatic slot in London

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
December 06, 2022

ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner has been appointed to a senior diplomatic position in London as director general Geopolitical (Political Director) at the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

This is a position equivalent to undersecretary in the British Foreign Office in London. He has completed standard three years diplomatic posting here. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has announced the appointment. Currently serving as HC to Pakistan, a position he has been holding since December 2019, Turner is expected to depart the country and take up his new role in London by mid-January next year.

According to the British HC, over his three years, Turner oversaw the UK’s Covid-19 repatriation efforts, welcomed a UK foreign secretary visit, lobbied for and secured direct flights from the UK to Pakistan, initiated a drive to double UK-Pakistan trade by 2025, ensured that the UK was at the forefront of the international Pakistan flood crisis response and played a pivotal role in the promotion of sports diplomacy and the return of the England cricket team to Pakistan following a 17-year absence.

Turner has been among most popular diplomats posted in Pakistan. He has said the last three years had been most rewarding, both professionally and personally. “I will continue closely to follow Pakistan’s future in my new role in London.” Prior to his appointment as HC to Pakistan, he was the prime minister’s international affairs adviser and deputy national security adviser from April 2017 to July 2019. He previously served as director general Political (Acting) and director general for the Middle East and Africa, leading the UK organisation of the London Syria Conference in February 2016. From 2012 to 2015, he was British HC to Kenya; and from 2009 to 2012, he was FCO director for the Middle East and North Africa. Between 1997 and 2008, he held various positions in the Foreign Office, the Cabinet Office and 10 Downing Street, including as private secretary to the prime minister. He also worked in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit as secretary to Economic & Domestic Committees of Cabinet, and as first secretary in the British Embassy in Washington from 2002-2006. Before joining government, he made television documentaries, following the completion of his PhD. He is married with two children.

The political director is traditionally seen as the UK’s second most senior diplomat. He is responsible for bringing together the UK government’s cross-cutting geopolitical work on security, international architecture and alliances, as well as UK values. No announcement has been made regarding the appointment of a new HC to Pakistan. Deputy High Commissioner, Andrew Dalgleish, will take on the role of chargé d’affaires to cover an expected interim gap until the new HC arrives.