Amjad Hussain Sial, a senior Pakistani diplomat, assumed the office of secretary general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) here on Wednesday.

Sial has replaced Nepal's Arjun Bahadur Thapa whose three-year term as the Saarc chief expired on Tuesday.

He is the 13th secretary general of the regional bloc which was established in 1985.

This was the second time that Pakistan appointed its diplomat for the Saarc top post. Earlier in 1996, Naeem Hasan from Pakistan served as the sixth secretary general of the Saarc.

Sial is a seasoned diplomat with a career spanning over 33 years.

He has ever served as ambassador of Pakistan to Tajikistan and permanent representative of the Pakistani mission to the United Nations.

The Saarc comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.