Islamabad -

Former secretary of Foreign Affairs Ministry, Riaz Hussain Khokhar, is leading the race among few diplomats being considered as best replacement of Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman.

Well-placed sources told The Nation on Monday that Mr Khokher the top contender among former senior diplomats for the ambassadorial slot to best serve country's interest because of his long experience. Mr Khokhar had served as Pakistan's ambassador to India, the United States and China before leading the top post of foreign ministry in 2002.

Sources said that there were few other names including Riaz Mohammad Khan and Tariq Fattemi being considered for the slot as both of them had also served as Pakistan's ambassadors to the United States. "It is the prerogative of the new government to appoint an Ambassador to the US," a senior official in the Foreign Office said, adding that Ambassador Sherry Rehman had tendered her resignation.

The Deputy Head of Mission Dr Asad Majeed would take over as Charge d Affaires until new elected government appoints an ambassador to the US.

The term of contract based ambassadors including Sherry Rehman ended with the completion of the tenure of the government that appoints them.

However, the caretaker prime minister had decided that all ambassadors appointed on contract would remain on their posts until the newly-elected government takes decisions on these matters.

There are 15 contract based ambassadors who are serving at Pakistani missions abroad appointed by the previous PPP-led government.