Pakistan to send a new envoy to Delhi

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Sohail Mahmood likely to be Pakistan’s next envoy in New Delhi after incumbent Abdul Basit leaves after a nearly three-year-long stint

-Abid Shah

Sohail Mahmood is likely to be Pakistan’s next envoy in New Delhi. The present incumbent at the blue-domed Chanakyapuri chancery, Abdul Basit, is going to leave Delhi after a nearly three-year-long stint in the Indian capital. He would make way for 55-year-old Mahmood. The new envoy has thus far been Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey.

Credible indications about the change came at a dinner hosted by Abdul Basit for a select gathering on Tuesday evening at his Tilak Marg residence in New Delhi which once belonged to first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan and was called Gule Rana after his wife. Following Partition, it became High Commissioner’s residence and was christened as Pakistan House.

Asked whether he was leaving Delhi, Abdul Basit told this reporter, “Yes, little less taxing times are in for me in days ahead though this may not be quite soon and may well take a couple of months or so. As of now I don’t know whether I would be going to be in Islamabad or elsewhere. But a colleague, Sohail Mahmood, would come over here to take over and replace me.”

Mahmood is three years junior to Abdul Basit in Foreign Service. The latter was in the race for the post of Foreign Secretary until last month when the top job of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs went to its envoy to Rome, Tahmina Janjua, who is the first ever woman to get the coveted post.

She is two years junior to Basit. And, thus, her ascent amounted to virtual supersession for Abdul Basit. Ever since, his exit from Delhi has been on the cards though efforts have been on to find and restore balance of power in the top diplomatic order of Pakistan.

Though Basit betrayed no signs of feeling slighted by the diplomatic shake up in his country and greeted guests with great warmth, the dinner turned out to be somewhat a subdued affair and it lacked its usual conviviality.

The fact that this came just two days before Pakistan Day which is slated to be observed on March 23 to mark the resolution passed by Muslim League in 1940 at Lahore for independence of Pakistan too was conspicuous for the gathering. The High Commissioner on his part, however, indicated to some of the guests to meet again the day after over tea, in obvious reference to Pakistan Day that his mission observes every year.

(The writer is a Delhi-based independent journalist. This article is courtsey Deccan Herald where it appeared first on March 22, 2017)

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