The government has appointed Sohail Mehmood, currently serving as High Commissioner in New Delhi, as the country’s next foreign secretary.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed his appointment on Sunday while talking to the media in Multan.
The appointment was due since Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua is set to retire this month after reaching the age of superannuation.
Tehmina, who served as the first female foreign secretary in the country’s history, during her stint had to deal with many challenging foreign policy issues -- including the recent military standoff between Pakistan and India in the wake of Pulwama attack.
Qureshi, while confirming the appointment of her successor, praised the role played by Tehmina as foreign secretary. He said the “people and the government of Pakistan appreciate her integrity and ability”.
Meanwhile, the new foreign secretary is expected to take charge of his office on April 16.
Qureshi spoke to Sohail Mehmood on Saturday and congratulated him over his new appointment.
The minister termed the incoming foreign secretary a ‘seasoned diplomat’, hoping that he would fulfill his responsibilities with full commitment.
Sohail, who is a career diplomat, served as Pakistan’s envoy to India in most challenging times as relationship between the two neighbours continued to see a downward spiral during his tenure.
Diplomatic effort initiated to blunt Indian aggression: FM Qureshi
The relationship hit a new low after the Pulwama attack when India launched air strikes against Pakistan. In response to Indian aggression, Pakistan downed an Indian Air Force plane after it crossed the Line of Control. At the height of crisis, the two neighbours called back each other’s ambassadors.
Pakistan; however, as part of efforts to defuse tensions sent back Sohail to New Delhi, prompting India to follow suit.
The main challenges for the incoming foreign secretary include the fragile Pakistan-India relationship, and importantly, the Afghan peace process, which is at a very delicate stage.
Sohail’s diplomatic career spans almost 35 years. During this period, he served in various countries in different roles. He served as ambassador to Thailand and Turkey before being dispatched to New Delhi.
His other foreign postings -- include counselor to Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and political counselor to the Pakistani mission in Washington.