Foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood retires

Published September 30, 2022
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood paid farewell call to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.  — Photo courtesy: MoFA Twitter
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood paid farewell call to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar. — Photo courtesy: MoFA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood retired on Thursday, ending his 37-year-long career in the foreign service, rounded off by three and a half years as the bureaucratic head of the foreign ministry.

Mr Mahmood’s colleagues bade him farewell at a reception held at the ministry, but significantly, the government has not notified his successor as yet.

Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Belgium, EU and Luxembourg, is tipped to be the new foreign secretary. The speculation has been fuelled by his arrival in the capital at a time when the government is set to announce the new top foreign policy officer.

Ambassador Khan is the third senior-most BS-22 officer in the foreign service after Raza Bashir Tarrar and Moinul Haq.

Asad Majeed Khan tipped to replace outgoing bureaucrat

Mr Tarrar was once a strong contender, but he was appointed as ambassador to Japan last month. His posting has made it clear that he is no more in contention for the assignment.

Moinul Haq, who is currently the envoy in Beijing, is retiring in about five months. Picking him would have meant that the government would have to make another appointment very soon.

Ambassador Khan too was posted in Brussels in May and will retire in 11 months. He is, however, considered the best possible choice.

He has previously served as ambassador to the US. His cable on his farewell meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu earned him fame as that cipher was later used by former prime minister Imran Khan to claim that his ouster from the PM Office was the result of a US conspiracy against his government.

Syrus Sajjad Qazi, who is currently the ambassador in Ankara, remained the front runner in this race for some time. He is, however, unlikely to get the job now because he is in BS-21, though he is returning to headquarters in a few weeks. Federal secretaries are usually appointed from among BS-22 officers.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022

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