Thursday June 30, 2022

Raza Tarar, Syrus Qazi front-runners for post of foreign secretary

January 10, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The country will have new foreign secretary in the second quarter of this year as the incumbent Sohail Mahmood will be completing his three years in the office in the beginning of April after attaining superannuation.

The quarters concerned have started brainstorming for finding the replacement. Sohail Mahmood was Pakistan’s high commissioner in India before assuming the present assignment and he also served as an ambassador in Turkey. It is likely he would be offered to take up another ambassadorial responsibility or the slot of envoy again in Ankara, but the final decision would be taken after return of sitting ambassador in Turkey.

Diplomatic sources told The News here on Sunday that Raza Bashir Tarar, special secretary FMO and Pakistan’s ambassador in Turkey Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi are among the front-runners for the position. The former is grade-22 Foreign Service (PFS) officer, whereas the latter is sure to get the same grade in the high official board meeting of the federal government. The sources said that Sohail Mahmood was eying the slot of the ambassador in Washington, replacing Dr Asad Majeed, who was viewed as the next foreign secretary, but he has been appointed the ambassador to the European Union (EU) and Belgium in Brussels to replace Zaheer Aslam Janjua. Zaheer Janjua has been appointed country’s high commissioner in Ottawa for Canada. The outgoing ambassador for Canada, Amir Khurram Rathore, has been appointed an ambassador in Saudi Arabia and his agreemaunt (consent by the host government) is awaited. The consent was sought two months ago to replace Lieutenant Bilal Akbar, who has relinquished the charge as his name has been removed from the website of the mission. He was offered ambassador’s slot in Hungary, but he declined. Pakistan’s deputy head of mission in Riyadh Muhammad Zeeshan Ahmad has assumed as country’s acting ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan’s ambassador in the US Dr Asad Majeed, who returned to Washington after attending the envoys conference last month, is still waiting for marching orders.

Pakistan’s former permanent representative (PR) for the United Nations Masood Khan, who has also served as Azad Kashmir president, has been designated to be country’s ambassador for the United States. Masood Khan, prior to that, served as an ambassador in China in the PPP government of Raja Pervez Ashraf. His agreemaunt was sought early December, but Washington consent has not been received after lapse of more than six weeks.

Masood Khan is being tasked to bring improvement in ties between Islamabad and Washington. Pakistan’s ambassadors for Iran Rahim Hayat Qureshi, the Netherlands, Suljuk Mustansar Tarar, PR to Geneva Headquarters of the UN Khalil Hashmi, PR to NY headquarters Munir Akram, ambassador for Austria Aftab Ahmed Khokhar, and envoy for Russia Shafqat Ali Khan have returned to their respective capitals after submitting briefing about the ties with Pakistan of their host countries and relevant regional situation, the sources said.