I wanted Ja­maica – Ah­mad

New Bri­tish high com­mis­sioner pushed hard to be here

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@glean­erjm.com

If you know what you are as­pir­ing to, then you can work to­wards them with your part­ners here, and your home base. You may not achieve every­thing over a four-year pe­riod but ev­ery day you wake up and work to­wards them.

NEW BRI­TISH High Com­mis­sioner to Ja­maica Asif Ah­mad pushed hard for the post­ing in Kingston as it was one he re­ally wanted. Ah­mad, a banker who turned diplo­mat, told The Sun­day Gleaner that he was se­lected from a num­ber of can­di­dates in the Bri­tish diplo­matic queue for the job. “I wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent, some­thing chal­leng­ing, and some­thing that had a closer res­o­nance to our do­mes­tic agenda that Ja­maica pro­vides,” said Ah­mad. “But it wasn’t a com­plete throw of the dice be­cause I have pretty strong links with the Com­mon­wealth ... as I pre­vi­ously headed the Com­mon­wealth Depart­ment,” added Ah­mad, who has also served in diplo­matic mis­sions in Burma, Thai­land and the Philip­pines. While he was un­able to state the ex­act num­ber of can­di­dates seek­ing the post in Ja­maica, Ah­mad said, if the num­ber seek­ing his last job in the Philip­pines was an in­di­ca­tor, then at least 17 per­sons pushed to come to Kingston. Ac­cord­ing to Ah­mad, a onepage man­i­festo was part of his pitch for the job in Ja­maica. “My open­ing line was that this is as much a post­ing re­lat­ing to do­mes­tic UK is­sue as it is about work­ing in a sov­er­eign coun­try in the Caribbean, namely Ja­maica, and they looked up and said ‘what do you mean by that’.”

He would ex­plain the her­itage and his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tions be­tween Ja­maica and the UK and Ja­maicans in the UK.

“They have as much right to ex­pect their high com­mis­sioner to be cog­nisant of their rep­re­sen­ta­tional needs, their con­sular needs, their busi­ness as­pi­ra­tions, should they have any, and a sense that the coun­try they have some con­nec­tion with is im­por­tant and is given due re­spect,” Ahmed told our news team as he ex­plained the sales pitch he used ini­tially.

AS­PI­RA­TIONS FOR JA­MAICA

He said the se­cond part of the pitch saw him look­ing at the as­pi­ra­tions of the coun­try from Ja­maicans liv­ing here and those liv­ing in the UK.

Ah­mad ar­gued that young, vul­ner­a­ble and busi­ness peo­ple all have as­pi­ra­tions, and they in­clude tough is­sues such as law and or­der, se­cu­rity threats or the coun­try’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

“If you know what you are as­pir­ing to, then you can work to­wards them with your part­ners here, and your home base. You may not achieve every­thing over a four-year pe­riod but ev­ery day you wake up and work to­wards them.

“There were oth­ers things that we talked about, but th­ese were the top two lead­ing themes of what I ac­tu­ally said.

“Es­sen­tially, what I was re­ally say­ing is as a sub­text of that, yes, we ac­knowl­edge our his­tory, some of it very dif­fi­cult, we ac­knowl­edge some of the con­tro­ver­sial is­sues that have arisen from that his­tory or from our cur­rent en­gage­ment, but the de­fault po­si­tion is that it’s a pro­gres­sive agenda,” said Ah­mad.

The new high com­mis­sioner has al­ready met with Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness and in­di­cated that he wants to work with the Gov­ern­ment to de­ter­mine ar­eas of con­ver­gence and fo­cus on those most, while not dis­card­ing oth­ers that may not ap­pear to be of im­por­tance right now.

He said among the is­sues dis­cussed with Hol­ness were ed­u­ca­tional, com­mer­cial and con­sular is­sues, and the is­sues re­lat­ing to Brexit and the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment meet­ing in April next year in the UK.

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/ FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

AH­MAD

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