ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his key aides on foreign affairs are prudently looking at a proposal seeking to appoint non-career diplomats as Pakistan’s ambassadors and high commissioners in the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirate (UAE).

Sources privy to the development told The Nation on Friday that the Prime Minister was carefully scrutinising a list of people for appointment as ambassadors and high commissioners at Pakistan’s important foreign missions. “Primarily, it is the prerogative of the government to appoint anyone it deems fit for the job,” sources in the Foreign Office said, adding the government enjoys 20 per cent quota to appoint non-career diplomats.

They were reluctant to share details of the proposal simply expressing their lack of knowledge. However, other sources maintained that the list consists of experienced and competent people able to handle these important diplomatic assignments.

Sharing some details, they said that there were two names being actively considered for appointment as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States and they are Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, Tariq Fatemi and Dr Maleeha Lodhi. Both had served as Pakistan’s ambassadors to the United States.

Sources were of the view that Fatemi might decline the offer on the pretext that he was happy with his incumbent position that increases the prospects of Dr Lodhi to grab the prestigious ambassadorial slot.               

Similarly, former Senator Tariq Azeem from PML-N was actively being considered for the appointment as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, sources said, adding Dr Maleeha Lodhi was also being considered for this slot because she has successfully served on this position as well.

Sources further said that Prime Minister and his aides were still weighing options not only for the abovementioned appointments but also for the appointment of Pakistan’s ambassador to UAE and some other missions ostensibly to adjust the quota of the armed forces. Sources were of the view that since government has ample opportunities to appoint up to 15 non-career diplomats, it can easily accommodate the armed forces as well. However, they insisted that the government would not make these appointments in haste or in one-go but in phases, starting decision on positing in key foreign missions including Washington, London and UAE.

A few days ago, the government approved its first batch of 15 ambassadorial postings comprising all career diplomats that brought a sigh of relief for the serving diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Those approved for ambassadorial appointments include Najamus Saqib (currently director general of the ECO, CARs and Iran-Turkey division) as envoy to Denmark; Imtiaz Ahmed (DG, China) as ambassador to Argentina; Ayesha Riaz (additional secretary, Europe) as ambassador to Austria; Ayaz Ahmed (DG, Europe I) as ambassador to Romania; Khalid Memon (DG, headquarters) as ambassador to Poland; Saeed Khan (DG, Europe II) as ambassador to Greece; Aizaz Chaudhry (additional secretary, UN, and spokesman) as ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg; Noor Jadmani (special secretary) as ambassador to Iran; Masroor Junejo (additional secretary, ECO and CARs) as high commissioner to South Africa; Zahid Nasrullah (director general, Middle East) as ambassador to South Korea; Attiya Mehmood (formerly posted to Jordan) as ambassador to Indonesia; Safdar Hayat (DG, audit and inspection) as ambassador to the Philippines; and Dr Aman Rashid (DG, disarmament) as ambassador to Switzerland.