Abdul Sattar (diplomat)

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Abdul Sattar
Abdul Sattar with Donald Rumsfeld, at the Pentagon, 2001.jpg
Abdul Sattar (left) conversing with Donald Rumsfeld (right)
Foreign Minister of Pakistan
In office
6 November 1999 – 14 June 2002
President Pervez Musharraf
Preceded by Sartaj Aziz
Succeeded by Khurshid Kasuri
In office
23 July 1993 – 19 October 1993
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Preceded by General Yakub Khan
Succeeded by Aseff Ali
Personal details
Born Abdul Sattar
Citizenship Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Religion Islam

Abdul Sattar (About this sound pronunciation  AHB-duhl seh-TAHR[needs IPA] Urdu: عبد الستار‎) is a veteran foreign service statesman, political scientist, diplomat, author of foreign policy, and nuclear strategist. Prior to be appointed as Foreign minister of Pakistan in two non–consecutive terms, Sattar briefly served in the Foreign ministry, first tenuring as Ambassador to Soviet Union and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).[1]

He has authored several books on Foreign policy, and has won critical praise of his diplomatic skills and work. Quoted by India Today, Sattar is considered one of the shrewdest and cleverest foreign policy practitioners that Pakistan has ever produced.[2]


Foreign service career[edit]

Sattar started his career in foreign service in the late 1960s, first working closely with another statesman, Agha Shahi, on foreign service issues.[3] He was one of the foreign service diplomat in assisting the implementation of the Simla Agreement in 1972.[2] In 1975, he was appointed as ambassador to Austria till 1978, when his new assignment was posted in India.[3] He was the High Commissioner to India until 1982; he was again appointed as High Commissioner to India in 1990 until his return to Pakistan in 1992. From 1986 to 1988, he served as the Foreign Secretary.[1] In 1988, he was appointed Pakistan Ambassador to the USSR which he continued until 1990 when he was appointed Permanent Representative to the IAEA in Vienna, also the same year.[3]

He held among the important posts in the foreign office including serving as the director of Soviet Union and Eastern bloc from 1982 until 1986, and director-general of Southeast Asia affairs from 1987 till 1988.[3]

Nuclear strategy and overview[edit]

Main article: Nuclear peace

While working on different foreign service assignments with Agha Shahi in the 1970s, Sattar became close and had cordial relations with theorist, Munir Ahmad Khan.[1] On multiple occasions, he had hold discussion with Munir Khan on topics involving physics and nuclear strategic issues. In the 1980s, he helped resolve possible nuclear restraint issue with India, after directing message to Munir Khan to hold meeting with Raja Ramanna in Vienna.[1] He would later served in identifying the nuclear policy stand of Pakistan as his role as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He helped drafting the strategic doctrine on atomic weapons and efficaciously arguing for it right.[4] In the 1980s, his direct involvement and assisting the government on shaping the nuclear policy resulting in declaring the official adoption of nuclear ambiguity on Pakistan's nuclear deterrence programme.[1]

About the nuclear weapons quantity, Sattar notably quoted to media that the "minimum cannot be defined in static numbers" and the "size of Pakistan's arsenals and deployment patters have to be adjusted to ward off dangers of the preemptive and inception.[5]

In 1995, Sattar maintained that, India and Pakistan's "attainment of nuclear weapons has promoted stability and prevented dangers of war despite the crises that has risen time and time...".[6] In 1999, he provided his expertise to Government of Pakistan for negotiating the terms Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), initially defusing the pressure on Pakistan in 1999.[1]

Foreign minister[edit]

Sattar arriving to meet US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 2001.

On 6 November 1999, Sattar was named one of leading minister in Musharraf's sworn military government, and appointed as Foreign Minister.[7] He was one of the earliest member in (now defunct establishment) National Security Council (NSC), a personal directive issued by Pervez Musharraf in 1999.[7] Not surprisingly, President Pervez Musharraf had selected Sattar along with Shaukat Aziz as earliest members of his military government.[7] In India, especially within sections of the foreign policy orthodoxy, some believed Sattar to be an anti-Indian thinker, this, however, is widely regarded as a misconception. While serving in government he was a known advocate of peaceful negotiations.[2]

In 2001, Sattar coordinated an emergency meeting with US National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, which many of his attendees describing its "rough meeting."[8] Sattar worked on normalising relations with the United States even as before 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. After the US demands to Pakistan to provide uttermost co-operation on War on terror, Sattar later described the co-operation policy as: "We agreed that we would unequivocally accept all US demands, but then we would express out private reservations to the US and we would not necessarily agree with all the details."[8]

Sattar assisted Musharraf after negotiating Agra summit to be held in India in 2001.[2] He drafted the work on Agra Summit, but ultimately the talks failed and the conclusion on Agra Summit was never reached.[2]


In June 2002, Sattar resigned from his ministerial post, citing health reasons. His resignation letter was immediately approved by President Pervez Musharraf, as Sattar requested to "relieve him at the earliest."[3] His close correspondents reportedly issued statements to media that the "last few months Sattar was not feeling comfortable in his office as the self-appointed President had virtually rendered the whole Foreign Office redundant."[3] Practically the military government was not consulting the Foreign Office on any issue including the hectic diplomatic activity in the recent weeks over the standoff with India on Kashmir issue. Sattar dryly maintained in media: "When the mood of the dictator formulates the foreign policy of the country, then what is the need to have a foreign minister?."[3]

On the other hand, the India Today wrote in 2007 that "Musharraf finally realised that Sattar was not the ideal candidate to further peace with India, and immediately replaced him in 2002, with Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.[2]

Academia and professorship[edit]

Thesis on nuclear deterrence[edit]

Abdul Sattar (left foreground) discussing with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 2001.

After retiring from nearly 40 years long Foreign service career, Sattar currently authors foreign policy and nuclear strategy related articles in Pakistan Observer.[4] In 1993–94, Sattar took up the fellowship at the US Institute of Peace and authored a research paper on "Reducing Nuclear Dangers in South Asia".[9] The research paper also appeared in The Nonproliferation Review in 1994, and later in Dawn in 1995.[9] Sattar arguably provided his thesis and staunchly arguing the right rationale for Pakistan's decision to acquire nuclear capability and advocated a balanced approach to assimilation of the neo-nuclear states in a global non-proliferation regime.[9] His another notable research paper, "Shimla Pact: Negotiating Under Duress", was published in journals in Islamabad and New Delhi in 1995.[10] He also contributed the section on foreign policy in the book Pakistan in Perspective 1947–1997 published by Oxford University Press on the fiftieth anniversary of Pakistan.[10]

Critical literature[edit]

  • Shahi, Abdul Sattar ; foreword by Agha (2010). Pakistan's foreign policy,1947–2009 : a concise history (2nd ed.). Karachi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199060231. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f Shahi, Abdul Sattar ; foreword by Agha (2010). Pakistan's foreign policy,1947–2009 : a concise history (2nd ed.). Karachi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199060238. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Amitabh Mattoo (19 February 2007). "The State of Fallacy". India Today. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Pakistan's foreign minister Abdul Sattar resigns". Muslim News, Inquiry. 9 June 2002. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Sattar, Abdul. "Pakistan-US clash and convergence". Pakistan Oberver,. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Ramana, edited by M.V.; Reddy, C. Rammanohar (2003). Prisoners of the nuclear dream. Hyderabad, A.P.: Orient Longman. p. 90. ISBN 8125024778. 
  6. ^ Dossani, edited by Rafiq; Rowen, Henry S. (2005). Prospects for peace in South Asia. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0804750858. 
  7. ^ a b c Staff (6 November 1999). "National Security Council, cabinet sworn in". Dawn News archives. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  8. ^ a b staff (25 June 2001). "Rough meeting". history commons. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c "Reducing Nuclear Dangers in South Asia" (PDF). Abdul Sattar, US Institute of Peace. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Pakistan's Foreign Policy 1947–2005". Oxford University Press, Canada. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Niaz A. Naik
Foreign Secretary of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Humayun Khan
Political offices
Preceded by
Sahabzada Yaqub Khan
Foreign Minister of Pakistan (caretaker)
Succeeded by
Farooq Leghari
Preceded by
Sartaj Aziz
Foreign Minister of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri