Qureshi launches ‘FM Direct’ amid Covid-19


Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday launched ‘FM Direct’ — a mobile application for a direct digital connection between him and all officers of his ministry.

For the first time in the history of the institution, each officer — irrespective of their grade or location — is directly connected with the minister.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the ‘FM Direct’ is a “new and evolved way of thinking, encapsulating the spirit of meritocracy and transparency” through digital communication.

“The mobile application has been introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic as an efficient and swift medium of internal communication, in cognisance of the critical importance of interactive and responsive multi-stakeholder coordination and dialogue,” the statement read.

Earlier in December 2019, Qureshi had introduced #VisionFO as part of his public diplomacy initiative to promote a macro vision, digital landscape and a transparent way of communication.

The Foreign Office has also introduced the concept of e-office and invested in secure, encrypted video conferencing facilities connecting it with its key missions across the world.

Qureshi, under the ‘FM Connect coffee mornings’, regularly connects with a diversity of stakeholders across Pakistan each month, to help frame a more progressive and inclusive foreign policy. He has also introduced an advisory council, engaging the expert views of seasoned retired diplomats.

The officials present at the launch of FM Direct included Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Special Assistant to the PM on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus,, National Information Technology Board CEO Shabahat Ali Shah, Prime minister’s focal person on digital media Dr Arslan Khalid, digital expert Imran Ghazali, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) chairman, and members of foreign minister’s Digital Diplomacy Group and senior officials of the ministry.

Over 60 heads of Pakistan missions across different geographical and time zones virtually participated in the event.

The foreign minister thanked the NADRA chairman for developing the FM Direct app and for ensuring its security and interactive features. The app will be regularly updated and improved in order to eventually replace other commercially available communication means.

Officers from the missions also shared their views with the foreign minister and lauded the launch of the modern and innovative communication medium.

Qureshi said Covid-19 was changing the world and the norms of governance.

He added that the pandemic would accelerate the pace of digitalisation.

Whenever there is disaster or crisis, it brings changes, innovation and new ideas emerge,” he noted.

“We are now equipped with tools that were not available to us before and we need to benefit from them.”

With input from APP.