FO goes ahead with appointment of new envoy to Colombo

Earlier reports suggested PM Imran Khan put the nomination on hold after objections from certain cabinet members

Kamran Yousaf November 05, 2019
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has pressed ahead with the appointment of Major General (retd) Saad Khattak as new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka despite earlier reports suggesting that the Prime Minister had put his nomination on hold after objections from certain cabinet members.

A Foreign Office source told The Express Tribune that Khattak’s agrément, a formal request to the host country for its consent, has not been withdrawn.

The announcement regarding the appointment of Khattak was made on September 30 by the Foreign Office as part of a host of new foreign postings. However, the next day during a cabinet meeting, some ministers reportedly raised objections over his appointment and subsequently the prime minister reportedly cancelled it.

Interestingly, despite that decision, the Foreign Office went ahead with the process of his appointment by formally requesting the Sri Lankan government to give consent to his appointment in the first week of October.

“Till date the agrément has not been withdrawn, meaning that his appointment remains intact,” said a Foreign Office official with the direct knowledge of the development.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Sri Lankan government could give its consent anytime. But given the upcoming Sri Lankan presidential elections, Colombo, is likely to take a decision once the polls are over.

Although Pakistan can still withdraw its nomination, it is unusual to do so when the process is already in an advanced stage.

Khattak’s appointment was part of the 20 per cent quota allotted to non-career ambassadors of which a significant number is reserved for retired military officers.

Traditionally, ambassadorial posts in Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Brunei, Bosnia Nigeria, Mauritius, the Maldives, and Jordan go to retired military officers.

When contacted, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal confirmed that the appointment of Khattak as High Commissioner to Sri Lanka was under process as per plan.

Without commenting on earlier reports that his nomination was rejected by the prime minister, the spokesperson said there was no change in the announcement made by the Foreign Office on September 30 regarding the appointment of Khattak as envoy to Colombo.

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