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Abul Fateh

Pakistani diplomat

Died when: 86 years 202 days (1038 months)
Star Sign: Taurus


Abul Fateh

Abul Fateh (16 May 1924 – 4 December 2010) was a Bangladeshi diplomat, statesman and Sufi who was one of the founding fathers of South Asian diplomacy after the Second World War, having been the founder and inaugural Director of Pakistan's Foreign Service Academy and subsequently becoming Bangladesh's first Foreign Secretary when it gained its independence in 1971.

He was Bangladesh's senior-most diplomat both during the 'Liberation War' period of its Mujibnagar administration as well as in peacetime.

A former Carnegie Fellow in International Peace and Rockefeller Foundation Scholar and Research Fellow, he has been described as "soft-spoken and scholarly" and "a lesson for all diplomats".

Exceptionally for a Bengali-born diplomat, he rose to the most senior ranks of public service in Pakistan.Then at the time Bangladesh began seeking independence, he spectacularly defected and changed sides to support the fledgling country of Bangladesh – a major propaganda coup and morale boost for the cause of Bangladeshi liberation given his stature in Pakistan's hierarchy.

Fateh was automatically the highest-ranked and most senior foreign service officer in the new country.His story was later documented in a National Geographic documentary, Running for Freedom.

Following his death he was described by a former colleague and successor Foreign Secretary as "a great and brave freedom fighter" who was at the same time "remarkably reticent about his contributions", a "soft-spoken and scholarly diplomat" whose service to the Bangladeshi independence cause at a critical period was "invaluable" and "a lesson for all diplomats.

His outstanding professional skill and deep sense of patriotism should be a shining example".The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dipu Moni talked about his "contribution to self-right movements of people, country's independence struggle and managing assistance to war-ravaged country after independence." She also cited his "outstanding career", stating that he would be "always remembered for his contribution to the country's liberation" war.

Although rarely in the public eye, Fateh was a distinguished figure in the history of post-Second World War, post-colonial diplomacy, a public servant who was a leading light behind the scenes within the Developing World and Non Aligned Conference, including the Commonwealth, with a significant tour of duty in Washington D.C. at the height of the Cold War.

In the West too Fateh came to be held in the highest regard, a rare joint U.S./U.K. intelligence assessment remarking in 1977 that he was: "very able, highly intelligent, moderate, easy to deal with, and well informed".

At the launch of his university's South Asia Centre in 2015, the President and Director of the London School of Economics Professor Craig Calhoun included Fateh in a list of a dozen public figures of the 20th century who he felt represented "the greatest fruits" of the "close mutual relations between South Asia and the LSE".

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