ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador to Belgium, European Union and Ambassador-designate to Luxembourg Dr Asad Majeed Khan arrived in the federal capital on Wednesday. He is likely to be the new foreign secretary as incumbent secretary Sohail Mehmood is retiring today (Thursday).
It may be mentioned here that Pakistan’s Ambassador in Italy Johar Saleem, who is also under consideration for the same post, reportedly also reached Islamabad from Italy. However, it could not be confirmed.
Dr Asad Majeed would have a very short stay in office as he was set to retire on August 17, 2023, former ambassador Abdul Basit told The News on Wednesday. Asad is a Grade-22 officer and earlier served as ambassador to the United States and Japan. However, officially, there is no word as yet nor has a notification been released on the appointment.
Interestingly, Sohail leaves at a time when his position as foreign secretary at the tail end of his career has been compromised in Wednesday’s audio leak, in which former prime minister Imran Khan allegedly says that the foreign secretary will be used in what appeared to be a fake attempt to fabricate the Cybergate scandal.
The decision by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and acceptance of proposal by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to bring in Asad would also be seen as vindication of the Foreign Office in the face of Cybergate scandal in which this highly-acclaimed diplomat was dragged unnecessarily by Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Both Bilawal and Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar have taken several steps in support of their team in the Foreign Office after the Foreign Ministry was continuously pulled down by Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Asad has good contacts in Washington which he made while he was ambassador there and unlike many ambassadors is active on the social media.
“I wish Dr Asad Majeed all the best and pray for his success. These are difficult times. Let’s hope he is able to rise to the challenge and contribute effectively,” Basit said. Recently, in an interview in Brussels, Asad had said Pakistan hoped that the international community would pay more attention to the treatment of Muslims in India.
“Muslims are being pushed to the wall. Unfortunately, they are being linked to Prime Minister Modi’s approach to Pakistan, creating another complication in our bilateral relationship. On top of Kashmir, the treatment of the Muslim minority is so worrying for us.”
He said Pakistan would continue to welcome investments and closer relationships with all its historically important friends and partners. The ambassador also pointed to Pakistan’s own international importance as the fifth largest country in the world by population, the second largest democracy in the Muslim world, and one of the largest Indian Ocean littoral states.
“In foreign policy issues, like a number of other countries, the overall priorities of political parties may differ in degree in some cases, but the broad contours of our foreign policy priorities have never changed over the last 75 years,” he had said.