Meaning & practice of protocol
On another occasion I will mention books on Bureaucracy written as old as these and Imam El Ghazali’s own writings and Nizam ul Mulk Tusis’ views in his “Siasat Nama”. In the Foreign Office, Chief of Protocol and Protocol Department was under my Division during 1979-80. I may be considered as having a bit of experience of these matters, having been in the Foreign Service for a little less than four decades. Let me say a few words used rather interestingly by our press describing most of the dignitaries as VVIPs. Correctly this in our case refer to three persons, President, P.M and perhaps Chief of the Army.
About protocol on arrival of President and Prime Minister, two points may be made. If the visit was ceremonious than in his own State the high ups would be required to be present to receive and see him off. But if it is of private nature than one need not be ceremoniously received. In London they used to say that if heads of state on private visits were required to be received by some high up at the air port, because so many visitors are coming to London at any time, or transiting through London that the British PM or a Minister would have an office at the Air Port just for this protocol. Same at Tokyo. Now the Tokyo Air Port is so far from city that the visiting dignitary or Head of State/PM is received by Chief of Protocol. Perhaps same can be said about US or some such capitals also. Just a token protocol gesture is made in such cases, and that too not if the visit is of purely private nature. Being received at the Special Lounge, called VVIP Rooms, is considered sufficient.
As regards being received by the CM of Punjab technical point is that in democracies the President is only Head of State and as a symbol of unity of the entire Federation he is not supposed to be the head of the Ruling Party. It was the practice in certain kind of Governments that the Head of State is never Head of the Ruling Party as it conflicts with his position as the Head of entire state and of all people irrespective of their political affiliation. Quid e Azam was a special person and no one can be compared with him and as the creator of the state. Unique persons creators of History are not to be presented as a precedent .
However, in such unusual circumstances as having the status of a Head of State and Head of a political Party virtually where he goes for political purposes of his party h e should himself ask the CM of a rival party not to come to receive him. Nonetheless if he does not do so, then the CM of a rival Party- irrespective of personal equations, can either send some one like the Chief Secretary or one of his Advisers to represent him at the Air port reception line if this is the arrangement or appear himself but stays very symbolically, strictly as a gesture of protocol.
“Another point of Protocol, no one as a Party Head can be placed next in precedence to the Head of State . In democracies like in UK. Syeda Warsi as the Head of the ruling political party will not place at second position in the precedence . It is doubtful if the son or daughter of a head of state can be placed next in precedence after the President in a modern democracy.”
While on the subject of protocol let me make some comments on the grant of rank of Minister to Sherry Rehman while she remains Ambassador to Washington. This happens when people with no knowledge of diplomacy get an ambassadorship and not just an Ambassadorship but Ambassadorship at the central point of what is called the front line post of diplomacy, the top most diplomatic post whether she knows that is quite doubtful by her requesting to be given the rank of a Minister. The post of ambassador to Washington aside, she does not know that in protocol except for Prime Minister and as a courtesy Foreign Minister, an ambassador has a higher protocol status than a minister. The point will be more manifest by an actual fact. Late Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan then Minister of Finance , came to Belgrade Yugoslavia as Leader of Pak delegation to UN Trade and Development Commission and I was its Member along with a number of Federal secretaries etc. Actually I was second senior member of the Delegation. Mr. G I K was also Co-Chairman of Pak Yugo Economic Committee with me as Deputy. Mr. G I Khan wanted to call on the President of Yugoslavia. The President declined to give him an interview saying he can meet his counterpart Minister but protocol prevents to grant him an interview. However, he suggested that I call on the President, since as Ambassador I could ask for interview at any level but a visiting Minister could not be received by him. However, I could bring Mr G H Khan with me on this interview and present him to the Yugoslav President, The Protocol is clear on this point the Letter of Credence makes the Ambassador a personal representative of his President NO other Minister has the Letter of Credence. Mrs Sherry Rehman does not know this point of protocol. Her second in command in the embassy is called a Minister. May be Sherry Rehman does not know the importance of her ambassadorship.