Basit made foreign secretary, Jilani ambassador to US

Published October 10, 2013
The new foreign secretary will be Abdul Basit (above), currently Ambassador to Germany.   — File Photo
The new foreign secretary will be Abdul Basit (above), currently Ambassador to Germany. — File Photo
Mr Basit would replace Jalil Abbas Jilani (above), who has been named as ambassador to the United States — a post that had been lying vacant for nearly five months. — File Photo
Mr Basit would replace Jalil Abbas Jilani (above), who has been named as ambassador to the United States — a post that had been lying vacant for nearly five months. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Finally shedding its indecision on filling key positions, the government chose on Wednesday a new foreign secretary and ambassador to the US, in addition to making a number of other important foreign postings.

The new foreign secretary will be Abdul Basit, currently Ambassador to Germany.

Mr Basit would replace Jalil Abbas Jilani, who has been named as ambassador to the United States — a post that had been lying vacant for nearly five months.

The former ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, had resigned soon after the PPP government suffered defeat in the May 11 elections.

Mr Jilani’s nomination comes close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington from Oct 23. Under normal circumstances, diplomatic procedures for appointment of a new ambassador cannot be completed in such a short time, but a senior US official told Dawn that the American government was ready to complete the formalities in the shortest possible time, allowing Mr Jilani to assume his new responsibilities before the prime minister’s trip.

No announcement has been officially made yet because ambassadorial appointments are made public once ‘agreement’ (consent) from the host government is received.

An important aspect of Mr Jilani’s appointment is that after a long time a career diplomat will be leading the mission in the United States, which governments usually assigned to political appointees because of the sensitivity of the relationship.

Mr Sharif had initially planned to send a political ambassador to the US and in the first week of September turned down a proposal to appoint Mr Jilani.

He had then told his aides that he would like to keep the position for political appointees, but for reasons unknown changed his mind.

Government’s shift from political appointees to career diplomats is also evident from its decision to appoint Asif Durrani as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Ibne Abbas as High Commissioner to India.

Before his stint as foreign secretary Mr Jilani served as Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, and High Commissioner to Australia.

Foreign secretary-designate Abdul Basit was specially called back from Berlin and informed about his new assignment.

In another important posting, Ambassador to Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq has been made secretary to the newly constituted Cabinet Committee on National Security. Syed Abrar Hussain is likely to be appointed ambassador to Afghanistan.

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