US diplomat all praise for Shehbaz Sharif

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Says Shehbaz’s ‘dynamism, vision’ makes him unparalleled leader

LONDON: A United States diplomat commended on Saturday the vision and management skills of the chief minister of Punjab, saying he was “tremendously impressed by the man”.

Zachary V Harkenrider — who served as the Consul General of the United States in Lahore, Pakistan, between 2013 and 2016 and was, therefore, able to work closely with Shehbaz Sharif — seemed quite impressed with the leader’s unparalleled commanding abilities.

As the consul general in Lahore, Harkenrider was responsible for all activities of the US government in Punjab. Now, he works at his country’s embassy in London as a senior diplomat.

In an interview, Harkenrider said Sharif’s “leadership skills, dynamism, and vision” allow him to make sure the goals he has set are delivered in practical form.

“It’s not only his strategic vision of where to take his province but also a practical capacity to implement that vision in the day to day life of his country and his city.

“That’s something completely unique in my experience in the developing world. I have never seen anyone who is that capable of matching vision and execution as Shehbaz Sharif was.”

Despite having served in a “dozen countries”, it was Sharif out of all the leaders he has met to date who left a lasting impression, the senior US diplomat noted.

“In Shehbaz Sharif, I saw both a strategic vision for where to go, blended with dexterity in understanding how to get there, a capacity to visualise and implement the future,” Harkenrider stated.

The diplomat explained how there are leaders who have either of the two qualities but that it is “fairly rare to find somebody who blends both”, which is why he found Sharif to be “quite impressive and unique in my experience”.

People like Shehbaz Sharif are needed in leadership roles in order to pave way for genuine development, Harkenrider continued, likening him to Robert Moses — an instrumental character in the history of New York.

The book “called The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A Caro shows you what that kind of energy can do to transform a city, transform a state to bring together the powers of the government for a collective good wedded to a vision and that’s what I saw in Shehbaz Sharif”.

“I saw in him a man of compelling vision with real leadership and management skills and the capacity to translate concepts into action and that is unique in politics.

“Very few leaders actually have that ability,” Harkenrider stressed.

The US diplomat said that Sharif is a “good man” and he provided great leadership to the people of Punjab. “I tell you that we were working hard to try to make things a little better and try to improve the US-Pakistan relations and try to invest in [the country’s] Pakistan’s success.”