|ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has changed its ambassadors in 14 important countries and three more ambassadors have been asked to return to headquarters after relinquishing their assignment so that they are also subsequently replaced with new envoys.
It is the biggest shuffle in the ambassadors/high commissioners in the recent history of the Foreign Office. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has approved the appointment of the new envoys and a formal announcement pertaining to the new postings and transfers would be made towards the end of the week. Pakistan will have new ambassadors in Russia, Holland, Brazil, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, Cuba, Nepal, Kenya, Yemen, Tunisia, Chile and Serbia. In the meanwhile, Prime Minister Gilani has sent for countryís envoys posted in about 15 significant capitals to discuss the new dimensions of the foreign policy in the wake of a row between Islamabad and Washington after acts of aggression by the United States against Paksistan.
Highly placed diplomatic sources told The News that Islamabad and some noteworthy capitals will witness hectic diplomatic activities in a couple of weeks against the backdrop of Pakistanís decision to bring about a major shift in its ties with some important capitals. Pakistanís ambassadors/high commissioners in China, Russia, France, United Kingdom, US, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Afghanistan, United Nations, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Indonesia and Iran are expected to attend the ambassadors conference being organized in a week. Some retired diplomats including former foreign secretaries and ambassadors/high commissioners are also being consulted in the process. The government is determined to ask the United States to evolve Ďfresh terms of engagementsí for future ties and the consultations are part of Pakistanís preparations of the same before it enters into serious dialogue in the light of the findings of the parliament in this regard.
Referring to the reshuffle in the appointments of the ambassadors, the sources said that Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will replace Pakistanís high commissioner in India Shahid Malik who is completing his extended tenure in New Delhi in the second quarter of next year. The change could be brought in place before the expiry of the contractual period of the high commissioner. The prime minister has decided that no high commissioner/ambassador who is already serving for a contractual period would be given further extension. Pakistan will designate new ambassador in Moscow next month as incumbent Khalid Khattak is attaining the superannuation age in March/April same year. Additional Foreign Secretary for Europe and spokesman of the Foreign Office Abdul Basit Khan has been appointed ambassador in Germany to replace Shahid Kamal who is retiring next month. Manzoor ul Haq Director General Middle East desk (DGME) has been made ambassador for Egypt where Ms Seema Naqvi is returning after completion of her tenure. Arshad Saood Khosa has been appointed ambassador for Brazil vice Alamgir Khan Babar who has already returned to headquarters and taken over the slot of Additional Secretary for Americas, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Irfan Yusuf Shami Director General Disarmament (DG-Disarmnt-P) has been posted ambassador in Yemen in place of Khawja Alqama who has already returned to the country after completion of his contractual period. He is a renowned intellectual and educationist and he has been offered some important responsibility back in the country. Khalid Durrani Director General Policy Planning (DGPP) has been made ambassador for Algeria vice Muhammad Aslam who is reaching the age of retirement next month. Additional Secretary for Policy Planning (ASPP) Mushtaq Ali Shah has become ambassador for Tunisia to replace an artist Athar Mahmood who has also reached retirement age. Nasarullah Khan Director General Europe desk has been appointed ambassador for Nepal on a slot rendered vacant after relinquishing by Syed Ibrar Hussian who has become director general Afghanistan back in Islamabad. Ghulam Dastgir will become high commissioner in Kenya as Masroor Ahmad Junejo has returned to headquarters and he has been appointed Additional Foreign Secretary for Middle East (ASME) here. Pakistanís ambassador in Netherland Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, ambassador in Chile Burhanul Islam and envoy in Serbia Nawaz Chaudhary will be relinquishing their respective assignment next month to come back to Islamabad. Nawaz Chaudhry will be retiring next month and new ambassadors for the three capitals would be announced accordingly. They have been communicated by the headquarters to leave their assigned capitals by mid January, the sources said.